Sunday 13 December 2015

Five Months

Well, I've managed to survive one month as a working mom. Going back to work wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. After a few days, I didn't feel as rusty, and while I won't say I'm enjoying being back at work, I discovered there were some aspects that I missed. In some ways, it's easier. I've been doing my job for thirteen years, I've only been a mother for five months. It feels more comfortable, so much so that I actually don't think about Jate too much during work. Wow, that sounds like a horrible thing to say. I do feel a greater sense of urgency to get out of the office each day, so I can go home and soak up every minute with her. I've lamented that I don't have the type of job that allows me to work from home, but that's not entirely accurate. For years, I've resisted having access to our EHR from home, as I didn't want to cross my work life and my home life. Now it's a necessary evil. I can catch up on my charting after she goes to sleep and when the clock strikes five-thirty, I'm out of the office like Fred Flinstone leaving the Quarry.

In her book, Bossypants, Tina Fey reveals how she resents the question, 'how do you juggle it all?' as she feels it's code for 'you're fucking something up aren't you?' So here are my failures as a working mom. We've been eating more processed food. On Sunday I'll try to make something like a meatloaf or a Sheppard's pie, so we'll have leftovers for another meal. I also made a double batch of beef stew and chicken Chipolte stew over the Thanksgiving break, so we can just defrost one of those for an easy, but homemade dinner. My friend Amy gave me the tip of using frozen vegtables; because, hey, they're still vegtables.  Sadly, Skillet Sensations and Safe.way frozen fish can become weekly staples. I haven't made it to the pool since I left for Connecticut. I don't think it will happen until she can reliably sleep later in the morning. I'm telling myself that I wouldn't want to swim because it's so cold, but I really do miss it. I also haven't made it to the gym in a while. I had negotiated to reduce my lunch to half an hour, so I can leave by 5 PM, but that won't take effect until the new year. I went last week when I was still in the thick of my cold, and the workout kicked my ass and then came back to kick it some more. The holidays are also consuming quite a bit of time. In addition to doing our usual weekend errands, Jate and I spent last Sunday stopping for Myrtle's family. My evenings were spent making photo collages for the grandparents, and wrapping the presents to prepare for shipping. Husband offered to take the packages to the post office, so he can say that he helped with Christmas. Not that I'm sounding ungrateful, as I appreciated having one less thing to do. One less. Okay, time to stop whining and remember how fortunate I am to have this wonderful little person in my life. These five months have been awesome.

Nicknames: Button, Muffin, Little bunny, Cup Kate, Beef Kate

Stats: 15 lbs 11 oz height 25.5 inches

Eating: We are dragging our heels on starting solids, but we're finally gearing up for it. As in, we're finally getting the required gear. I picked up some bowls and spoons and a box of rice cereal. We ordered a high chair from Ama.zon, and the box is still sitting in the hallway. Maybe we'll get around to it next weekend, or maybe we'll wait until my parents arrive. There have been a few occasions when I've kept her on my lap while I'm eating, and she seems interested, but not overly keen. I've decided I'm not going to do the Baby-led Weaning thing. Mostly, because I don't fully understand it, and when I was reading about it, the source said it can involve wasted food and can make a mess. Two things, I don't really like. I spend about an hour each week preparing my lunch by chopping up veggies into snack baggies and scooping yoghurt and jello into plastic containers, so preparing baby food will fit into my routine.

Teeth: None yet. Not anxious for this either.

Sleeping: Every night leading up to her four month birthday was met with trepidation, when would we stumble into the Four Month Sleep Regression? We got our first glimpse while we were in Connecticut, on my mother's projected "night of hell". She would wake up, we'd pick her up and she'd fall asleep in our arms within seconds. Then, the moment we placed her back in bed, no matter how gingerly, her eyes opened wide and she would start to wail. This went on for over two hours, before we were finally able to put her down without the rebound wakefulness. The next night, she went back to sleeping through the night, so we figured it was a fluke, or she and my mother are conspiring to make me crazy. However, when we returned to California, she gave us another night of waking as soon as her head touched the bed. After an hour of this fight, I surrendered. We were scheduled to take her for her baby photo shoot and I didn't want a cranky, overtired baby on the set. I took her to bed with me and let her sleep on the, while I dozed as well. Later that day, we took her for her four month vaccinations and she slept through the night. Now, I finally understood why some parents want to space their kids shots, it's so everyone can get some sleep. The night leading into my first day back to work, she started waking at least once during the night. We did our usual routine, Husband gets up to change her and then I feed her. She would fall asleep rather quickly and then easily transition back to her bassinett. One morning while Husband was reminiscing on how nice it was when she slept through the night, I had to remind him that we were spoilt, and honestly getting up once during the night isn't too bad.

Then one day, Lena, my swim teammate who has a baby exactly one month older than Jate, shared how they successfully sleep trained their baby to sleep 12 hours straight. She relayed that her pediatrician said since she could sleep through the night, the nursing is more for comfort and habit. This made sense, so we tried to put her back to sleep without nursing one night and fought with her from 2:30 to 3:30 before I gave in and offered the boob. She chomped down as if she hadn't eaten in days. Then I remembered that she did miss a feeding that day. It was 4 AM by the time I successfully got her back into her bed. I climbed into my bed and Tyler decided to walk in circles around me. After twenty minutes of waiting for him to settle, I kicked him off the bed and it took me another 30 minutes to finally fall asleep -for a restful 45 minutes before my alarm rang. I kept thinking that I could have had a decent night's sleep if only I nursed her right from the start. I contacted the nurse who ran our new parents group and she thought that Jate may be hungrier as she is more active during day care and is going through this developmental leap. This also made sense, but I had confess that we may just be taking the easy way out and may pay for this later.

Thus, we came up with a new strategery. If she wakes up before midnight, we'll sleep train her until she goes back to sleep; if she wakes up after midnight, we'll feed and hope for a quick transition back to her basinett. We felt this was a good compromise as she would be learning to put herself back to sleep, and we'd make sure we got some sleep after the wee morning hours and would keep our sanity. Then one night she woke up at 11:30. We got so close to achieving slumber by the arbitrary midnight deadline; she would sleep for a few minutes, then wake up again. We gave it to 12:30, before I gave in and nursed. I thought for sure this inconsistent action would totally set her back, but at press time, she's slept through the night for the past two nights. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Likes: My in-laws got her a new activity centre, which she really enjoyed the first time we placed her in it. However, she's caught on to us. She's figured out that we're hoping she entertains herself so that we can get some chores done, so it has fallen out of favour. In turn, she's developed a new appreciation for the Baby Bj.orn as it allows her to stay close to Mummy while she's cleaning. She's reached out and pet Tyler a few times, so I think we can add him to the likes column.

Dislikes: Socks. She really can't stand wearing socks or anything on her feet. She's figured out how to brace the toe of the sock with one foot and pull her foot out, or she'll grab the sock with her hand and will wiggle her foot free. Since it's been pretty chilly, I've been keeping her in pants that have covered feet. I'm waiting until she figures out how to take her pants off.

Diapers: Still size 3 Pamp.ers and still in cloth during the day. Every evening when I have to scrub her diaper covers, I feel reminded that there is a not so glamuorous aspect to saving the planet.

Clothes: Solidly into 6 month size. I finally cleaned out all the three month onesies from her dresser.

Milestones: Finally rolled over from back to front! After getting so close for so many weeks, at last she figured it out. Husband was changing her, when she rolled on to her side and then decided to grab the edge of the changing table and used her upper body to pull herself over. The next day, I was out running some errands and she fell asleep in the car. I attempted to transition her from the infant seat to her crib. She woke up, but was quietly playing with her Wubanubb, which allowed me to put away the groceries, so I considered it a win. I went out to the garage to throw some milk in the chest freezer when I heard her start screaming. I ran into her room and found her faceplanted. Okay, now that we can check off this milestone, you don't ever have to do it again.

Health Issues: We made it four weeks into day care before she contracted her first cold. I was really trying not to make a big deal out of it, but Husband and my aunt convinced me to take her to the pediatrician. I felt validated when our pediatrician shared that he once thought his son merely had a cold, but when his wife took him to be evaluated, he was admitted with pneumonia. As to be expected, Husband and I both got sick as well. My mother commented that she and my father had some of their worst colds when I was little; you have to build up immunity to day care germs. She wasn't kidding. This cold knocked me on my ass. We had to keep her out of day care until she was afebrile for 24 hours, and since Husband had a day trip to Denver, I had to stay home with her. The concept of taking a sick day was blowing my mind. If I didn't have her, I would have pushed on and went to work.

Looking forward to: This is after the fact, but all week I was looking forward to date night on Saturday! Our day care provides baby sitting one night a month. 5:00-10:30 for $40. It's a steal compared to the rates of most local sitters. We decided to do the classic, dinner and a movie, so we could finally see the latest Bond film. We tried a new restaurant only to discover that the food wasn't great. Spectre was rather disappointing, and the Warriors lost. Still it was great to have some time just for ourselves. I'm looking forward to my parents visiting for Christmas. I know Jate won't be aware of what is going on, but it will be fun to see my parents with her. Okay, I also admit that I'm looking forward to having them watch her so I can go the the gym and to swimming. Oh, while I'm confessing, I'm also looking forward to having some home cooked meals by my parents. It's going to be like having a personal chef for two weeks! Just one more full week of work, then I'll have a four day week, a three day week and a two day week. Not that I'm counting down or anything...

Monday 7 December 2015

The Grandparent Effect

She sits like a viper, and offers a clock without giving a damn....
-Belle and Sebastain 'Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It'

Except I did give a damn. It was my first Christmas with then-boyfriend-now-Husband, and I wanted to make a good impression on his parents. I spent hours walking up and down and in and out of every store on the High Street before choosing a carriage clock at Deb.enhams. My now in-laws accepted it graciously, despite the fact that they had at least three carriage clocks in their front room alone. It now gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that a carriage clock is considered to be the gift to give when you don't give a damn.

While I was living in England, I could handle my in-laws in small doses. A dinner or Sunday lunch now and then, each encounter would only last a few hours. When Husband and I moved to the States, we would visit them for at least a week. As soon as we would arrive, my Mother-in-Law (MIL) would ask about my work, my parents, my cat and Myrtle. That would be it. We would run out of conversation at that point. Both his parents had retired, my MIL worked in a cafeteria and my FIL was a builder. They didn't travel and don't have any hobbies. As we were planning our wedding, I discovered something that I had long suspected; my in-laws don't have any friends. The only guests they invited were my MIL's cousin and her husband, their neighbour and the lone friend of my FIL, who has since moved to Scotland and they haven't spoken since our wedding, which was almost ten years ago. They are incredible socially awkward. When you try to talk to my MIL, she just comments "that's nice", which pretty much shuts down the conversation, but I think that's her go-to response as she really doesn't have much to add to the discussion. My FIL and I have long accepted that we have nothing to say to each other and have since stopped making any effort. I just can't escape the thought that we merely exist in each others' lives because I happen to be married to their son.

Those visits are so painful as 'spending time with his parents' involves sitting around their living room; not surprising, the layout of the sofas is not conducive to engaging in conversation. We all sit in silence, which is almost as agonising as watching the morning chats shows that are playing on the telly. Husband brings his laptop, so he can stay on top of his work. I started bringing journal articles to read, and I can bang out a lot of CME credits during these visits. When the cabin fever sets in, and I'm about to go stir-crazy, I'll go for a run, begging my feet to carry me one more mile so I can delay going back into the house of awkward silence. There are other reasons I feel so uncomfortable around my in-laws. They wait on Husband hand and foot and his behaviour regresses. He can leave dirty dishes on the dinner table, because they'll clean up after him. Many years ago, long before we were married, he called his mother a "lazy cow" and his father a "dickhead" and tried to explain to me that this is how they speak to each other. (accurate, but that's not the point)  I was horrified that someone I was dating could speak to his parents in such a derogatory way, but more so, it made my question why his parents would tolerate such talk. To this day, if I spoke that way to my parents, even in jest, I would get smacked across the face. Yet, despite the fact that I blame them for most of Husband's faults, I appreciate that he could be so much worse!

Last month we travelled to Connecticut to visit with my parents and Husband's parents, since it was a shorter flight for them and would give them an opportunity to meet Kate. Conversing with my in-laws is even harder now. They both speak so softly that it is hard to hear what they are saying. After the second time of asking them to repeat, you just pretend that you understood and nod, or just say "that's nice." My FIL has profound hearing loss and wears hearing aides, which truly makes me feel badly as Helen Keller described that it is worse to be deaf than blind. "Blindness separates you from things, but deafness separates you from people."  I asked my MIL to recount what Husband said when he called to announce Jate's arrival. "Oh. I can't remember." Thus, that attempt at conversation was shut down. On a Sunday afternoon, I informed my FIL that we found the channel that was broadcasting the Formula One race (his only interest). "Well, that's no good. [my MIL] doesn't like to watch it" was his way of saying 'thank you' as I'm sure he considers that my MIL doesn't like Formula One racing when he watching it every weekend back at home. I asked if he was happy with the success of the English driver. "He's such a wanker. He'll cut in front of another driver and will do anything to win." Um, I thought that was the point of the racing. Okay, I'll just stop trying...Husband called his father out for the real reason why he doesn't like that driver; he's coloured. Yes, my FIL still uses that term.

I had other concerns about my in-laws being around Jate. I didn't want them to change her as I don't think they have the reflexes to stop her from rolling off the makeshift changing table. I didn't want them to take her for a walk in her pram as I feared they wouldn't cross the street in time on the blind corner in front of my parents house. I let them give her bottles, but I had to watch carefully as Jate would nearly wiggle out of my FIL's lap. They did seem to truly enjoy their time with her, and I hope she has a meaningful relationship with them despite my distain. I recall that when I was 10 or 12, I could sense the tension between my paternal grandmother and my mother. I vividly remember when I heard my maternal grandfather made a racist comment. I was filled with a profound sense of disappointment. I also recall my mother instructing my grandfather not to use such words in front of me, or she threatened that we would no longer visit them. I wonder if I should have such a conversation with my FIL.

I also fear/acknowledge that Jate will regard my parents as the "fun grandparents" compared to my in-laws. It's inevitable, not just due to their personalities; my parents are younger and in very good health for their age. They have lots of friends, they travel, my mother knits and runs a dominos club. They can't wait to take Jate to Disneyland. I worry that they may try to spoil her, and I may have to have that awkward conversation with them. My friend Amy instructed her mother not to buy her daughter too many presents for Christmas last year, but her mother went overboard. As she threatened to do, Amy opened all the gifts, selected a few for her daughter and gave the rest to Toys for Tots. Yet, at the same time, it's spoiling (just a bit) part of the grandparent experience?

We had some other incidents with my parents during the trip. My dad locked Jate inside the car. It's a story we can laugh about now. My mother and I went shopping and my father stayed in the car with Jate, who was sleeping in her car seat. When we finished, we found my dad frantically pacing around the car. Jate started to stir, and my dad sprang into action by opening the driver's door and he accidentally hit the auto lock button. Jate feel back asleep by the time my dad discovered he was locked out. He called 911 and within 20 minutes some very nice [looking] firemen showed up and used their big hook to grab the keys off the passenger seat and retrieve them through the partially cracked open window. Jate slept through the whole ordeal. We thanked the firemen and my mom asked if they wanted to see the baby they rescued. It was quite precious to see a group of buff and burly firemen coo and aww over a baby. Husband wanted to put my dad 'on probation', but I thought that was over reacting. I didn't really freak out over it. The end result wasn't any different if my mother and I had spent twenty more minutes in the store. Plus, I knew my dad felt like shit and if I over reacted, he'd only feel worse.

As it turns out, my mother is far more dangerous with a car. We travelled to Pennsylvania to visit my mother's sister and naturally Jate woke up just as we passed the last rest stop in New Jersey. Jate was screaming her head off as we were counting the miles until the next stop. "Can you change her in her car seat? my mother asked. Um, no. Putting aside the fact that I would have to partially detach her from the protection afforded by her 5-point harness, I wouldn't be at an angle where I could effectively change and clean her. Jate continued to scream even louder as then next stop was still 15 miles away. "Can you hold her?" my mother asked. Um, No. Fuck NO! I couldn't believe my mother was suggesting that I would allow my daughter to be an unrestrained passenger in a moving vechile. Then again, I don't think she's aware of the fact that half she shit she did with me back in the 70s would get written up by CPS today.

This rings oh, so true.

Yet the ultimate moment that got under my skin also came courtesy of my mother. We took a day trip up to Boston to watch Husband umpire and not surprisingly, Jate slept the entire time she was in the car. It also happened to coincide with her usual nap time and she slept just over two and a half hours. When we arrived, my mother commented. "Oh, she's had a long nap. You're in for a night of hell." Firstly, that's flawed logic. Sleep begets sleep. A woman at my gym who is a mother of twins gave us the advice, "if you want your baby to sleep at night; make sure she sleeps during the day." I'm much more concerned about whether or not she'll sleep at night if she doesn't nap well during the day. Secondly, who the hell says that to a new mother? Thirdly, who the hell says that in such a sing-song tone that is practically punctuated with a smiley face emoticon. I was so hoping that if there were ever a night where Jate slept soundly, it would be that night, so I would have the pleasure of proving my mother wrong. Unfortunately, Jate must be in cahoots with my mother as she woke up at 1 AM and didn't go back to sleep until 3:30. The comment pissed me off the first time I heard it and every time Jate cried, it pissed me off all over again. Weeks later, I still hear my mother's words haunting me when Jate wakes up in the middle of the night. It's become my Raven.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Autumn Day in the Life

Oh my, how much has changed since my last Day in the Life update.
Here's a review from last Tuesday

0515 Hear Jate start to stir. Check the clock to see the time. We'll count this as sleeping through the night
0520 Husband is now awake and is checking his phone
0530 Apparently he was waiting for me to tell him when to get up and change our baby who is happily babbling
0531 Contemplate if I want to get up and brush my teeth, or stay in bed. Staying in bed wins over dental hygiene.
0540 Husband returns with Jate and hands her over to nurse. I really love that I don't have to get out of bed to feed our baby.
0541 I reflect that this is the time I would be leaving for swimming and wonder if I ever will swim in the morning again. Until she starts sleeping later, I don't think it will be soon. I check the current temperature on my phone, which reports that it's 48 degrees. My personal rule is that I don't swim if it's under 50, so I would have missed this morning anyway.
0600ish drift off for a little cat nap
0630 Alarm rings. Jate is asleep on the Gently transfer her to her bassinet
0645 Finished showering and return to the bedroom. Apparently Jate woke up about ten minutes after I put her down. Husband is having her do some tummy time on the
0650 In the kitchen. Boil water for Oatmeal and cup of Mother's Milk tea. Turn on the Kurig. Feed the cats.
0653 Bring Husband a cup of coffee, since he's entertaining Jate
0655 Sit down for breakfast and check emails, Facebook and blogs
0705 Throw breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, wash last night's pump parts
0706 Place Jate's bottles into the carrier bag (aka, my old lunch bag). Carefully test for potential leaks. We use Joovy Boob bottles, which are really good, but you can't over tighten them, or else they will leak. This is what happens when you spend two hours touring bbB with the registry consultant. You become so paunchy that you revert back to adolescence. Tee Hee-Hee. It's called Boob. We'll take it.
0710 Return to bathroom to dry hair, put in contacts and apply a little makeup. Bring ipad along as I need it to keep track of time.
0730 Husband starts to work on getting Jate dresses for the day
0745 I finish getting dressed while Husband fastens her into the infant seat. Next I round up my purse, my keys, my pump bag, my gym bag, my lunch bag, Jate's bottle bag, her day care bag, my water bottle and my phone. Husband brings Jate out to the car, as the bag lady can barely fit through the door. Really glad we have the attached garage for this purpose.
0753 Ready to depart. Press the button to open the garage door before backing out the car.
0758 Arrive at day care. Sign in and fill out her daily report card indicating when she woke and when she last ate. Hand over her bottles and cloth diaper supplies for the day.
0800 Kiss her one last time before placing her in the arms of the attendant.
0802 Back in the car to leave for work.
0823 Arrive at my desk. My medical assistant picked up a cup of coffee for me. "It was supposed to be on your first day back, but today was the first morning I had any extra time." she explains. Dude, she has three kids to get ready each morning. I'm amazed that she makes it to work every day! I'm truly lucky to work with someone so organized and so thoughtful.
0825 There is a quiet room near my desk, which has been established as the official pumping room. I plug in the pump and attach the tubing, so we're all ready to go. This only takes about thirty seconds, but it will feel like it's saving me minutes later.
0830 Log in to my computer at exactly 8:30 as I'm sure some bean counter is keeping track of this.
0835 My medical assistant and I do a run-down of the patients on the day's schedule. She informs me that we received a request from a primary care provider to see a patient with a "possible miscarriage." Records were faxed. She was seen in the ER last week and there was a small questionable gestational sac seen in the uterus, and she had a large 8 cm adnexal mass. Her HCG went from 3385 to 4350. Seriously, why did this primary care provider wait this long to refer her? I have to squeeze her into my schedule today. It always seems that ectopics come in around a long weekend.
0840 I send an email message to a patient I saw yesterday. She had yet another miscarriage and I wanted to check in to see if she made a decision about her management options. I closed the message with the words, "I hate that you have to make these decisions."
1002 I have a break from 10:00 - 10:15 for pumping, but I'm already behind. I haven't even seen my 9:45 patient. However if I don't pump now, I won't get another chance to do so this morning. My medical assistant notices that the 9:45 patient needs a second trimester blood draw. It will make good use of her time, but I'm still going to be even further behind.
1005 While pumping I check my patient emails. The miscarriage patient would like to use misoprostol and she does want to do products of conception testing. I leave a message for the rep at XYZ lab inquiring about their hours for the holiday weekend. Just before I left for maternity leave, we decided to stop using XYZ's brand of NIPT. This call could be awkward.
1015 Finish pumping. Managed 6 ounces.
1100 Notice that I have a voice mail on my mobile phone. I gave the XYZ rep my personal phone number, because after three years I still have no idea how to use the voicemail on my desk phone. The lab will be closed on Thanksgiving, but open on Friday. They do have an after hours storage area, so if the specimen goes out on Wednesday, it will be fine to sit for a day and then will be processed on Friday. I email this info to my patient along with the misoprostol instructions and I call the meds into her pharmacy.
1115 I was hoping that my 22 year old annual GYN patient would no-show. No such luck.
1205 Finally finish with my morning patients. I catch up with Co-worker. We were supposed to go to her house for dinner over the weekend, but she cancelled as her kids were sick. She reports that they have croup on top of a cold. Really glad we gave the dinner a miss.
1225 Heat up my lunch and scarf it down as I finish my charts from the morning.
1307 Remember that I added the potential ectopic patient into my schedule at 1:15. Quickly get set up to pump
1310 Notice that the patient arrived early to complete her paperwork as instructed. Will only pump for 10 minutes, whatever I get during that time is what I get.
1320 My medical assistant finishes rooming the patient. She reports that she had been trying to get pregnant for a long time.
1325 There is a single viable intrauterine pregnancy measuring 6 weeks and 1 day. The adnexa mass is likely a hemorrhagic cyst or an endometrioma. I suspect it has been present for a while. It's a Pre-Thanksgiving miracle! I'm not sure what to make of her low rising quant. We'll see her back in one week
1415 Check my patient emails. The miscarriage patient sent a message thanking me for being so responsive and she wishes me a Happy Thanksgiving. It's really satisfying to know my work is appreciated. It still always amazes me that some patients can be so gracious even when they are going through something so difficult.
1645 Finish with my patients and I only have a few phone calls to clear. I'm going to make it to the gym! It's another Pre-Thanksgiving miracle!
1650 Complete my charting as I pump. Change into my gym clothes.
1715 Gather the milk from the fridge and head out of the office as quickly as I can.
1728 Arrive at the gym in time for warm-ups. This is a rare event.
1730 There are wall balls in today's WOD. My legs still hurt from the last time we did wall balls. I went back to using the 14 pound ball, (I was using the 10 pound ball while I was pregnant) my what a difference 4 pounds can make!
1850 Back at home. Quickly change out of my gym clothes as Jate is waiting to be fed. I feed her while Husband prepares her bottles for the next day and washes my pump parts.
1915 Prepare dinner. Microwave leftover Sheppard's Pie and serve with salad. It's technically a home cooked meal.
1920 Shovel down dinner as Jate plays on the playmat
1935 Draw a bath for Jate while Husband cleans up the dinner plates.
1940 Jate enjoys splashing in the tub. She's almost getting too big for the infant insert, but she can't quite sit by herself long enough
1950 Dry Jate off with her duck head hooded towel. I'm convinced that the reason for having kids is so you can use the duck head hooded towels
2000 In the interest of time, I read her stories while we nurse
2020 She's drifted off asleep. I recently read that I'll have to stop letting her fall asleep while nursing once she gets teeth. I inherited bad teeth from my father, so there's a chance she could get that from me. Then again, I'm not a good role model for dental care.
2025 Successful transfer to her basinet
2030 Pack my pump bag and Jate's day care bag with some extra clothes and cloth diaper covers. Discover that Husband has packed my lunch for me. I spend Sunday afternoon cutting up fruit and vegetables into small containers, so I can quickly pack lunch each day. I check his work and only have to change a few things.
2031 We would normally go to bed at this point in time, but we watch our local basketball team continue their winning streak
2200 Go to bed. This is now defined as 'staying up late'
2300 My alarm goes off. Time to go pump.
0200 The pump alarm goes off again
0430  Now the Jate alarm is going off. Husband and I are both exhausted from staying up so late. We decided to play the 'let's wait a few minutes to see if she goes back to sleep' game.
0545 Apparently, it worked. We all fell back asleep. Time to start another day.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Four Months

So, do you remember how last month I was noting that time didn't seem to be slipping by that fast? Well a weekend long swim meet, three days at a conference, two weeks on the east coast, and the countdown to the end of my leave, all have a way of making time fly rather quickly! I know it's going to go by even quicker as I go back to work and the holidays approach. Yet, this month the biggest measure of how time is passing is the size of Jate herself. Before I left, I had been noticing that she was starting to outgrow her bassinet and we were planning to move to the Pack and Play when we returned as a way to transition to her crib. It wasn't really an option, in just two weeks she became too big for her bassinet. Sigh. My baby is not a little peanut anymore.

Nicknames: (new ones!) Muffin, BeefKate

Stats: 15 lbs 3 oz. 24.5 inches

Eating: Breastfeeding story of the month: I had to bring Jate to my swim meet and I wanted to have some expressed milk on hand in case she needed to be fed while I was swimming. The 95 degree temperature was too much for the ice block in my Med.ela cooler, so I went to procure some ice. I approached the middle aged ladies who run the snack table and asked if I could take some ice from the coolers where they were selling water and juice. "No." the first woman replied. "You don't want this ice, everyone's hands have been in the cooler..." I tried to explain that I wasn't going to be using the ice for drinking. "No." the other woman backed up the first. "You don't want this ice. Go to the first aid stand." I held up my Med.ela cooler and demonstrated that I was needed the ice to help keep her milk chilled. I was planning to double bag the ice, mostly because I didn't want it to leak, not that I was concerned about everyone's hands being in the ice cooler, given that this was a swim meet where everyone's hands are sterilized by the chlorine and chemicals in the pool. I was starting to feel as if I were in the "I can't spare a square" episode of Seinfeld, so I decided I would buy a bottle of water and just grab a handful of ice. As I approached the cooler, I was shot down. "NO ICE FOR YOU!" " Go to the first-aid stand!"

I walked into the life guard's office and was greeted by a 18 or 19 year old guy, who was playing on his phone. I asked for a bag of ice. "No problem." he replied as he jumped out of his seat. "Are you injured?" At this point, I was thinking it would be easier just to claim a fake injury, but I wasn't prepared with a back story. I offered that I just needed to chill my daughter's milk. "Oh." he replied, "Do you want to keep it in our fridge?" as he pointed to the small dorm sized fridge that was marked 'Staff Only'. Lesson learned. Sometimes the people you think will be helpful are not, and sometimes you may be surprised by who is helpful.

Sleeping: She started sleeping through the night just before she was two months, and not the five hours uninterrupted definition of sleeping through the night. Actually sleeping from 9 PM to 6 AM. So I've been terrified that it will all come crashing down with the four month sleep regression. She slept rather well while we were visiting my parents, although she had some nights when she would wake up after we put her down and would need to be settled again.  As she was showing signs of rolling, we recognised that it was time to stop her swaddle and put her in a sleep sac, and we figured this was a good time to institute this change. We were planning to have her sleep in the Pack and Play for the next two months until we are ready to move her to her room at six months. However, we don't like having to bend all the way down to place her in the PNP and it seems to make her startle easily, which may be why she was waking as soon as we'd try to put her down. I was able to purchase a barely used Arms Reach Co-sleeper for only $45 and we're using it as a free standing bassinet. It's been working really well, the only trouble is that Tyler is fond of it too. I woke up to pump one night and found him sleeping by her feet.  We've also started having her sleep in her crib for naps. The first attempt lasted five minutes. Her current PB is 45 minutes. Since we returned, she started waking up around 3 AM, which we wondered if she was still on east coast time. She had one episode where she would fall asleep quickly in our arms, but woke up as soon as we put her down. After repeating this cycle for nearly an hour, and as this was the morning of her professional photo shoot, and I didn't want a cranky baby on set, I took her back to bed with me and let her sleep on the We also wonder if we are in denial that she may be showing signs of a sleep regression. Stay tuned.

Likes: She's still enjoying the playmat, especially as we've added some new items. She recently tolerated two hours in the Bj.orn while I was cleaning, so I'm adding it to the likes column. Her favourite toy seems to be an activity bunny, which saved us on the airplane. She's really into her feet, as she thinks she can eat them. She also enjoys spitting up on me, and for some reason, just me. So much so, that she practices several times a day, just to get it right. At press time, we just introduced her Sophie toy. It appears to be a hit!

Dislikes: She does protest quite a bit when we're tyring to dress her.  Otherwise, she's a pretty easy going baby.

Diapers: We moved up to size 3 Pamp.ers. We still cloth diapering during the day, but no longer need to use the twist method.

Clothes: While we were in Connecticut she wore little Myrtle's old clothes (Mrs Myrtle has them stored in her attic as she's holding out for grandbaby #2) so I had fewer items to pack. When we returned, she no longer fit in her 3 month sized clothes and needed to move into the 3-6 month section of her wardrobe. 6 month size onesies are still a little big on her, but 6 month size footie jammies seem to fit almost perfectly. Yikes! how is she wearing 6 month clothes already?

Attended Mummy's swim meet
First Daddy-daughter day while Mummy was at her conference
First airplane ride and trip to Connecticut
Met her other set of grandparents
Met Myrtle and little Myrtle
First Playdate
Started Day Care

Health Issues: She came home from her third day at day care with a stuffy nose, but it didn't develop into a cold. We're two weeks in and so far, still no major illnesses.

Milestones: Just days after her three month birthday, she started turning on her side from lying on her back. We thought rolling from back to tummy was imminent, but hasn't officially happened yet. She came really close one time at my parents' house. We were using my mother's dresser as a makeshift changing table, and she had an epic blowout. While Husband was drawing up a stat bath, she got three-quarters of the way over before I had to stop her. I didn't want her to get shit on my mother's curtains and I didn't want my memory of this milestone to be that my daughter was rolling around in shit.

Looking forward to: Going back to work -because, if I write it, it must be true! In that case, I'm looking forward Thanksgiving break. I'll have four days alone with Jate as Husband will be away. I have all of season three of the Gilmore Girls on my DVR so I can re-enact my maternity leave. Next week we meet with the photographer to review the proofs from her three month photo shoot, and I'm a bit afraid to see how much we'll spend. Finally, and this is a vain one, I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll look like with hair!

Blond or ginger? We shall see! 

Tuesday 10 November 2015

All Good Things Must Come to an End... and a Begining...

Today was my last day of maternity leave. I feel as if I'm in the scene of The Shawshank Redemption where Red is being asked if he's ready to rejoin society. Are you ready to join the wage earning work force again? Are you ready to get dressed each morning into actual clothes? Changing from your pajamas into your yoga pants no longer counts as 'getting dressed'. Are you ready to wear make-up again and do something with your hair besides tying your wet hair up with a clip? Are you ready to wake up to an alarm clock and not your baby? Although I set the alarm on my phone to get up and pump, my main alarm clock has not rung since it woke me on the morning of my C/section. Are you ready to do your job again? Do you remember anything? Are you going to feel like a fish out of water? How many new policies and procedures are you going to have to learn?

However, there is no panel who will determine if I am ready and will decide when I go back. It's been decided for me. Ready or not, this is happening. I am going to be the client who needs an after hours or Saturday appointments. I keep trying to remember the mixed emotions I had when I left for my leave. I was going to miss my long standing patients. I was going to miss the sense of identity provided by my occupation. Turns out, I didn't miss working anywhere near as much as I thought I would. Now I'm going to miss staying in my bed clothes until 10 or 11 AM. I'm going to miss watching Gilmore Girls as I wash bottles. I'm going to miss swimming under the sun at noon. Most of all, I'm going to miss watching my Jate grow and develop right before my eyes.

Except, and I hate to admit this, I have been growing a bit bored. Especially as Husband had a lot of long nights due to his hockey assignments, I felt restless. It's hard maintaining a one sided conversation all day long. I would feel frustrated when she would spit-up on me for the umpteenth time, or when she would pee on the changing table, again. A break from my routine is actually welcome.

I keep telling myself that this transition is going to be good for both of us. Jate needs to be around professionals who know what she should be doing to develop at this point in time, rather than me checking the baby centre app from time to time. She needs to be around other babies and kids. When we made the decision to have an only child, we made a promise to the hypothetical child that we would provide opportunities for social interaction with his or her peers. We've spent a week transitioning to day care, where she's attended from 9-2 as a way to ease into her new routine and so far she's done rather well. I managed to hold it together on her first day, mainly because I had so many things to do. A long overdue dentist appointment and a trip to the grocery store, where I spent over two hundred dollars. What did I buy for all that money? Husband inquired. Honestly, I don't really know. I was just shopping without a baby and I don't know when that opportunity will come again.

It's also going to be good for our cats. I took Tyler to the vet as I noticed that he was losing weight (fun being stuck in traffic with a screaming baby and screaming kitty). Two hundred dollars later, we received a diagnosis of stress. Apparently, it's a hard knock life for a cat. Actually, I do feel badly for him when she really shrieks, as he does look distressed. Seventy five dollars later, I got some more Feli.way diffusers to help ease his stress and he's been maintaining his weight. Hopefully, having the baby out of the house for most of the day will ease it some more.

I am also very fortunate that I have a job that I love and provides a lot of professional satisfaction. I have colleagues and staff members who are supportive and I truly enjoy working along side. I've really missed those social interactions that help the work day pass. I'm also looking forward to being on a more equal footing with Husband. While he does his share of diaper duty in the middle of the night and pitches in with many other child care chores; there were times when he would pull the "I have a busy day tomorrow" card. I've been warned by a few mothers, that I'll probably still be the default parent, but at least I'll have that card in my back pocket as well.

We're very lucky that our day care is so close and isn't going to increase my commute time, which is only 15-20 minutes. Although we're planning that I'll drop her off and Husband will pick her up, I needed to adjust my scheduling template so that I could pick her up if needed. I was able to shorten my lunch break to half an hour, so my day should be able to end at 5 PM. I talked to my Lead Physician and Centre Manager about working one 12 hour day and reducing my weekly hours to 36, so I would only work four days a week. While cutting down to 32 hours a week would reduce my salary by 20%, when we crunched the numbers of just dropping four hours against the day care savings, it was less than $5K (after taxes). The approximate cost of a transfer. I made that case to Husband, and reminded him once again of how much we're saving because I am breastfeeding. However, in order to put this into place, we need one other provider who is willing to work evening hours and need to find staff who can do evening hours, so it's just a hypothetical at the moment. This is fine by me, as I can just focus on working regular hours, let alone shock my system with a 12 hour day. The logistics of working four days a week and being a mom for the remaining three just feels much more balanced than doing five and two. However, on that long day, my hours would be from 7 AM - 8 PM, which means I just might see her when she wakes and might catch her before she falls asleep. I'd be giving up seeing her for part of a day in order to gain an entire day with her. Plus it would require Husband to be the lone parent before and after day care for her on those days. We'll see if this goes to fruition.

A few months ago, I started fretting that I was never going to be able to swim or work out again, but I soon realised that the more I used the word never, the more I would guarantee that never would become a reality. I had to stop saying never and think about solutions. The shorter lunch break, which would end my work day at 5 PM, will also allow me to attend the 5:30 gym class and still make it back home for dinner and putting Kate to bed. I know I'm not going to be able to swim or work out every day as I used to, but I am going to aim for two times per week. I wasn't going to try to fit in any exercising at all during my first weeks back, then I complained how I didn't do any activity while we were in Connecticut and I could be going almost a month without working out, so Husband challenged me to fit it in during those first weeks. If it's going to be part of our routine, might as well incorporate it right away.

I'm approaching the return in baby steps, a bit like What About Bob? I'm going back on a Wednesday, so I'll have a short week. Then a full week and another short week due to Thanksgiving. Then it's three full weeks before another partial week leading up to Christmas. We're usually not as busy during the holiday season. Do you ever wonder who goes in for their yearly GYN exam on Christmas Eve? Jehovah Witnesses. I have 3 or 4 JWs who come to see me on that day, as they feel it's the only place to avoid the holiday madness. I'll take a few days off while my parents visit for the holidays. Then we're in the new year and three weeks away from the MLK long weekend. I keep reminding myself that it's not like I'm never going to have another day off, in fact we may have a staycation week in April as her Day Care has a spring break... Sigh. It won't be the same.

Thursday 5 November 2015


As I had missed the general warm up session of a recent swim meet, I also missed out on getting a parking spot. Fortunately, I managed to find street parking rather close. I had a nice view of the entire facility as I walked toward the Aquatic Centre entrance. The first heats of the 400 Individual Medley were getting started. The warm-up lanes were still pretty busy. Masters swimmers who were not competing were going through some drills. A water aerobic class was taking place in the shallow teaching pool. Despite all this activity, the one object that caught my attention was the diving block for lane one of the long course. Almost two years ago, I sat on that diving block as my RE reviewed the fertilization report from my first IVF cycle.

Two days prior, on Halloween, my RE performed my final follicle count. My estrogen level had plateaued and he felt it was time to trigger. I had been keeping count during my monitoring appointments and I was anticipating having nearly 14 or 15. My RE warned me not to focus [get too excited] on this number, as it would only matter how many were mature. The detail that he failed to explain to me, was that my estrogen level would correspond to the projected number of mature eggs. As I peaked at 1500, he figured 6-8 mature eggs. I felt that number was very insufficient. We would maybe get 4-5 to fertilise, and possibly have 1-2 to transfer, which wouldn't make it worth doing pre-implantation genetic screening. I could sense this cycle was going to be a failure. Instead of asking important questions about my prospects for this retrieval, I distracted myself with trivial details; could I swim the day after my retrieval?

As I left his office, Myrtle texted me a photo of little Myrtle in the most adorable lamb costume. I had managed to hold it together while I sat across from my RE, but this picture prompted my breakdown. Tears, sobs, it was a full on ugly cry. Adding insult to injury; Myrtle had included me in a group text. Like hitting 'reply all', the other mothers included in the group texted pictures of their kids in Halloween costumes. I had plans to attend a costume party at a local bar later that night. As I prepared to bring my trigger shot in my purse, I thought about whether or not it was appropriate to be administering my all important trigger shot in the bathroom at a bar? I was filled with so much doubt that I knew it really wouldn't matter. Husband and I went out to dinner, as we wanted to avoid being home and needing to attend to trick-or-treaters. Moments after we walked out of the restaurant, I burst into tears again. More uncontrollable sobs. Husband knew there was no way I could hold it together, and he called our friends to inform them that would would not make it to the party. All this was triggered by the sight of a diving block.

As I unpacked my car and snapped my daughter's infant seat into her stroller, I felt validated and finally fulfilled. All the doubts and fears I felt as I was sitting on that diving block were confirmed. It would take the second transfer from my second stim cycle to finally produce our baby. A year later, on another Halloween, I received the beta results that indicated that Jate was on her way. Here we are, another year later. She wouldn't cooperate for a Halloween photo.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Have Baby, Will Travel...

I survived flying with a baby all by myself! While it's all fresh in my mind, here are my tips/recommendations based on our experience.

*An early start helped acclimate to the time change.
It wasn't intentional, but I wish I could claim that I were smart enough to incorporate such planning. I had a 7 AM departure, which meant I needed to leave the house by 4 AM for the 38 minute drive to the airport, 15-20 minutes getting from the long term car park to the terminal, and at least 30 minutes to go through security while building in some 'oh shit!' time, which now could actually include real shit. I woke Jate up at 3:30, which is 6:30 on the east coast, pretty close to her usual wake time. With an early start to her day, she easily went to sleep at 8:30 EST and slept through until 6:30 east coast time. It could not have been a more seamless transition... for her anyway. I'm still struggling with a bit of jet lag.

*Pack the car the night before
This is a very obvious and general packing tip for anyone who is travelling, but as someone who used to finish (or sometime start) packing right before leaving for the airport, I have to say it's a real time and sanity saver.

*Know the airline's policy for carry-on items
I looked up on Uni.ted Airlines webpage and learned that a breast pump and diaper bag are not counted as either your carry-on or your personal item. I had made arrangements to borrow a breast pump from one of Myrtle's friends, but I was considering bringing mine just so I could have some room for a few more items. However, it does translate to having more shit to carry. Instead I found a larger sized purse in the back of my closet.

*Streamline Security
Going through security is always a pain in the ass. Everyone is impatient and there are never enough plastic bins. I wore slip-on shoes and did not carry any liquids. (I had Husband buy me shampoo, conditioner etc... which I will just leave at my parent's house, but in the future I may continue this practice. Seriously, where in the world will I be travelling that I can't find a Walgreens?). I did notify the agent that I had breast milk, but it did not get checked. I had to separate the infant seat and collapse the pram and I had to carry her through the scanner. An older woman offered to hold her as I took apart the travel system and finished loading my bins.

*Random strangers were more helpful than airport staff
With the exception of a flight attendant who offer to hold her while I gathered her stroller after the flight (a moot point as I had her in the Baby Bj.orn), no one on the airport ground or flight staff offered to help. Fellow passengers were much more willing to offer assistance.

*Practice pushing the pram with one hand
I tucked the diaper bag in the storage under the stroller, carried my large purse on one side and pulled a standard size carry-on bag with my other hand. It was very awkward and I felt very uncoordinated. After making it through security, I stopped for some breakfast and then decided to change her before boarding the plane. Pushing the pram seemed very easy...OH FUCK! I left my carry-on bag at security! Fuck! fuck! fuck! I quickly ran back, expecting that my bag would have been confiscated and presented to the bomb sniffing dogs. I realised that I didn't even have a tag with my name or details on it. Oh, I am so fucked... Nope. the bag was just sitting right where I left it. I just had to tell an agent that I left my bag and he let me take it. I'm sure seeing a frantic woman with a baby convinced him that I was just an absent minded mother and not a terrorist.

*Know the airline's boarding priority
I must not have been paying attention, as I hadn't noticed that many airlines stopped the practice of allowing families and those travelling with small children to board first. Apparently, Uni.ted was one of the first to drop this practice, and I don't know if they started do this at the same time, but they do offer 'Premier Access' services, where for $39 you can get in a faster queue at security and board earlier. I object to this practice on so many levels, but Husband paid for me to have this service, so that I could be sure to have space in the over head bins near my seat. Pre-baby Jane wouldn't care. I'd put my Tetris skills to work and re-pack the bins to maximise the space.  I'd climb over seats if I saw some space in a bin a few rows back. Things you can't do while baby wearing and needing someone else to help with your bags. It was worth the extra expense. I was sure to get an early spot in the queue as I was passed by many passengers while collapsing the pram and infant seat.

*Appeal to your seat mates
The nurse who facilitates our New Parents Group mentioned that she would offer ear plugs to her fellow passengers when she was travelling with her babies and children. She found that if anything, it helped break the ice and most people appreciated that she acknowledged 'yeah, you're the unlucky one who got stuck next to a baby...' Ear plugs seemed obsolete as everyone would be wearing head phones to listen to the in-flight entertainment. I thought about buying a round of drinks when the beverage cart came around, but it was a 7 AM flight. So, I picked up a few $5 Star.bucks gift cards. I was very fortunate that I was surrounded by female passengers, a mother and adult daughter as well as two sisters who each have two children. I think they would have been patient and understanding and willing to help anyway, but they really appreciated the gesture.

*Prepare for take-off
A few years ago, I read a very funny editorial in Time magazine advocating for a 'baby and children' section of an airplane. He observed what seemed to be irony that tray tables must be fasten, laptops must be secured, but your infant can be loosely placed on your lap. One of my swim teammates is a flight attendant and she explained that infant lap belts are no longer used as they can cause severe injuries in the event of a sudden stop. She also informed me that Baby Bj.orn carriers are not allowed, but cloth wraps and carriers are permitted. I didn't want to bring the Baby K'tan wrap only to use it for take-off (plus she's still not very fond of it) but I brought the sash that goes with the Baby K'tan and with the help of my seatmate, I tied her to my torso. She started to fuss just as the plane was starting to taxi, so I nursed her until she dozed off. She did cry at all during the ascent nor the landing.

*Let me Entertain you
Jate slept for a good two and a half hour nap, but once she woke and fed, she was awake and alert. I nursed her and at that point I really didn't give a shit who saw my boobs, although I did cover with her blanket. I brought a brand new toy, hoping that the novelty would hold her attention for a little while longer.

*Beware of the blow-out
I have no helpful tips or whimsical insight. If this happens to you; you have my sympathies as it really sucks.

*Don't forget to hydrate
I should have picked up a large bottle of water at the airport. I didn't get anything from the drink cart, as I feared spilling it on her. When I took her to get changed, I asked the flight attendant for some water and chugged it down as quick as I could. The fact that I didn't need to pee once during the 5 hour flight indicates how dry I was. I hit the vending machines on the way out and slurpped down two Vitamin waters. While she was in her infant seat, I fed Jate with the bottle of expressed milk as we drove home, which made for a nice ride with a quiet, happy baby.

Monday 12 October 2015

Three Months

Cheeky grin...

Everyone warns you how quickly time will pass once a baby arrives, and believe me, it has. I can't believe it's been three months already. Yet at the same time, it also feels much longer than that. My parents visit seems as if it were ages ago, and those first few nights in the hospital has become a distant memory. My pregnant is also a blur. I'm so happy to forget about the swollen ankles and numb fingers, but every now and then, I'll place my hand on my abdomen and try to conjure the memories of feeling her flip and kick inside me. Perhaps it is because we waited so long and wanted her in our life so badly, that her presence seems to be transcending time. It feels as if she has been with us for a lot longer than three months.

Recently, an event marked just how much has been accomplished in these three months. I went into a local boutique shop and brought a sleeping Jate in her infant carrier seat. She started to wake up as we approached my car. As there was a bit of time left on my meter, I decided to try to take her for a walk in the Baby Bj.orn. She did rather well for about twenty minutes, then began to fuss. She was due for a diaper change and a feed, so I stopped in a cafe to take care of both, as well as get a cup of tea for myself. I lost track of time, which resulted in a near sprint to make it back to my car before the meter-maid issued [another] $58 citation. Maybe Jate didn't like dashing about while strapped in the carrier, but whatever was upsetting her, she was showing no restraint to make her feelings known. She was screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs. When I started to fasten her into her carseat, an event she hates while in a good mood, she began to wail even louder, which I didn't think was actually possible. Yeah, yeah, you're crying... I acknowledged to her while acknowledging something else to myself. Ten weeks ago the sound of such a stressed cry would have reduced me to a puddle of tears. As she had been fed and changed in the past half hour, I could be dismissive. Perhaps even a bit cavalier. Some people looked inside as the passed my car. This time, I welcomed their judgement. Yes, I am a terrible mother. Worst Mother in the World -right here! 

Yet, I can't believe it's already October and the holiday season is breathing down our necks. Pretty soon, we'll be ringing in another New Year. Recently, I've been becoming aware of certain anniversaries that brought us to Jate. It wasn't intentional, but I stopped at Star.bucks almost exactly a year to the date when a bathroom stop after the Farmer's Market announced AF's arrival and the commencement of our FET prep. It's funny how some details are still so salient. I remember that New Girl liked the dress I was wearing when I had my laminaria placed. I still recall the sense of relief when my RE declared that the transfer could not have been any smoother. I vividly remember the sense of panic when I started to cramp from my overdistended bladder and decided to risk getting off the table after only 8 minutes of rest. I remember there was a beautiful sunrise on the morning of my beta draw. I couldn't help to wonder if it were some sort of sign from the Universe, which I knew was just a silly thought. Nonetheless, I decided to pull my car over and stop to take a picture, even though I knew I would arrive at the lab late and be further down on the list. Now that I know the result, I like to think that there was some message in the sky...

Nicknames: Still the same

Stats: (unofficial) 13 lbs 6 oz, 24 inches

Eating: Still exclusively breastfeed. I know I said that I didn't want to set any goals for a particular duration, but once breastfeeding was well established, my first target was to hit the three month mark. As my paediatrician is pretty adamant about not starting solids before six months, that's my next goal and then we'll play things by ear once the solids start. Oh, I had another moment where I reversed a vow made by my former self. I had previously declared that if I ever had a baby and decided to breastfeed, I would NEVER feed in public without using a modesty cover. When Jate was five weeks, I attended my first session of a New Parents group. One of the other moms informed me that the discussion usually continues by going out for lunch after the class ends. I joined the other moms who were sitting with their babies in the outdoor eating space at the local Whole Foods. Jate, who had been calmly sleeping in the Baby Bjorn carried, decided to wake and go from zero to full out wailing in less than 5 seconds. I was in the far corner of the picnic table. Not only would I have needed other moms to get up to let me out, but my pram, which contained the my cover, was the furtherst away, so I would have had to crawl throughout a maze of strollers to reach it. Oh fuck it! I thought. Then another thought hit my brain like lightening. You're in WHOLE FOODS. In BERKELEY CALIFORNIA. I'm sure people would probably take more objection to your use of a cover! 

The thing is, I'm not so much worried about offending other people, as I don't think breastfeeding is offensive. I can appreciate that it make a situation awkward. Husband was always uncomfortable around breastfeeding mothers and he wasn't sure where to look and didn't want to accidentally see someone's boob. I think that is was resonates with me. I actually have fairly nice breasts (or at least they were nice). I don't want just anyone to see them. The exposure can translate to a certain feeling of vulnerability. Nonetheless, with a screaming baby, I did what I had to do and I breastfeed in public sans cover. Of course in the nanosecond between when I lifted my shirt and stuck Jate's mouth on as if it were a magnet, I looked up and saw a youngish guy looking my way. Oh Jane, why do you think he pays the higher prices at Whole Foods? He probably comes here hoping to see some boobs!

Sleeping: She has stretched her sleep to 8-9 hours uninterrupted each night. I truly hope she is a good night time sleeper and we're not being lulled into a false sense of security, which will come crashing down as she hits the four month sleep regression, right when I go back to work. I've also been fearing the night we have to wean her from swaddling, as I think that is one of the reasons why she sleeps so well. A few weeks ago, I noted that her size small swaddles were getting tight. The weight range was 7-14 pounds and she was barely 12 pounds at that time. I found one in the back of her drawer, which still fit, and led me to conclude that the others must have shrunk in the dryer. So when I washed the remaining swaddle, I let it air dry; only to find that it was also too small. I realised I had my washer set to "warm", which was still hot enough to shrink my swaddles. Alas, we had to break out the pack of medium swaddles, but they were a bit too big and she could easily wiggle her arms out. We decided that this was a good time to start swaddling with one arm out. It has been working both to protect her good sleep, but also to prepare for when we go sans swaddle. She will almost always release the second arm, and when I check on her, I'll often note that she will still have both arms by her side, as if they were wrapped in the swaddle; which is a bit odd, but also rather cute.

Likes: She is going to be a Blankie girl. She loves the soft muslin blankets and will cuddle with them. She also really loves her Wubbanubb and I'll often find her with her arm around the little giraffe, giving it a snuggle. She also seems to really enjoy bath time.

Dislikes: I'm afraid I have to add the Baby Bj.orn carrier to this list, although I've convinced that she just doesn't like it yet. I tried carrying her during a recent New Parents group gathering at Whole Foods, but she became fussy after fifteen minutes or so, and I put her back down in her pram. One of the other mothers observed, "maybe she just prefers reclining rather than being held upright". She's probably right, but in my more vulnerable lactation induced menopausal state, I felt as if I were failing in my bid to be a baby wearing mom. Now, this would be a big deal if I subscribed the the theory that strollers are evil and mothers who love their babies, wear their babies. Seriously, I didn't know this was such a thing. I recall watching the movie Away we Go on an airplane flight (98 minutes of my life that I'll never get back, as I couldn't figure out the point to that movie) where a character was anti-stroller as she proclaimed,  "We don't want to push our babies away from us." I thought the writers were trying to make her character really quirky, but one mom in my group shared that her brother and sister-in-law are anti-stroller and they make the seventy year old grandparents carry their baby and toddler up and down the steep streets in San Francisco! Um, how about sometimes a stroller is more convenient and sometimes a carrier is more convenient and let's not read anything else into it. When I'm at the Farmer's Market, I prefer to use the stroller. I would be worried about someone bumping into me and I don't have to overload myself carrying a baby and bags of fresh produce. Plus, it's easier to shield her from the sun and I kind of enjoy the fact that people will get out of your way. When I'm in the grocery store, I prefer to wear her in a carrier, so I have hands free to load and push the trolley.

Diapers: We moved up to size 2 Pamp.ers Swaddlers and still use regular size cloth diapers during the day. She still pees on the changing table at least once a day. While I was pregnant, Myrtle called me at work to let me know that I didn't register for enough changing table pad covers. "Really?" I asked, "two is not enough?" "Nope. Double it." she insisted. Okay, I thought as I figured I could keep them in their package and return them if I didn't need them. However, Jate must have been listening to our conversation and she decided "challenge accepted!" as she has gone through all four covers in one day...

Milestones: Nothing major this month. She's been more cooperative with tummy time and her head control is coming along. We've been working on sitting, both propping her on pillows and placing her in our laps. She's learned to bring her hands together and recently discovered her toes. She's been babbling more frequently, which sometimes turns into a bit of a howl, and is rather funny.

Looking forward to: Well, our trip to the East coast is right around the corner. I'm a little nervous as Husband is leaving five days before me. (He has many umpiring assignments and my parents aren't getting back from vacation until the day I arrive, so if I left at the same time as Husband, Jate and I would spend the better part of five days alone at my parents house. Bored out of our skulls). The prospect of flying by myself is daunting, but other experienced mothers have helped assure me that it's not as hard as it seems. I'm excited to see my parents again, and my in-laws are also visiting from England. Especially after being the lone parent for a long stretch of time, it will be nice to have many willing family members to take her off my hands. Myrtle is busy with a work event for part of our trip, but I'm excited to see her as well. I'm also hoping to meet up with a fellow blogger! I'll also be attending a continuing medical education conference just before I leave. The conference takes place on two of the days while Husband is away, so my cousin will watch Jate for a few hours while I attend the lectures. It will be a nice way to get a little break during my long stretch of solo parenting, but I'm looking forward to using that part of my mind again (which has gathered so much dust and cobwebs) and it will be a refresher before I go back to work. Ah yes, my mornings of watching Gilmore Girls will be coming to an end... 

"do we have to do this every month?"

Sunday 4 October 2015

"A Sock Won't Protect My Heart!"

A little over a month ago, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, aired a brilliant segment about Sex Education in the United States. Most notable, the only consistent feature in the currcula from state to state is the slut shaming of any young woman who engages in any sexual intercourse (oral counts) before marriage. The "educators" (interestingly all female) describe a non virginal woman as a piece of tape that no longer adheres, and as a dried up piece of chewed gum. (Also interesting, there was no character assassination of the young men who are sharing the tape's adhesiveness, or chewing the gum...) In a more creative presentation, one Sex-Ed program shows a video of a young couple on their wedding night, where the bride, who is supposed to be giving her new husband that unique gift you can only give once, gives him a box with an old shoe. "It looks like an entire football team wore these!" exclaims the groom, just to make the point that she's not merely a slut, she's a mega-slut! "I made them all wear socks..." The deflowered bride tries to defend herself. "But Michelle, a sock won't protect my heart!" the groom proclaims, before he adds; "You can still get foot fungus from a sock!"

Okay, I love how they worked the foot fungus reference, as it almost prevents the analogy from seeming completely ridiculous. I encourage everyone to watch the clip, as it also contains a LWT produced sex education video, that is actually very relevant and informative with accurate information. It's also brilliantly cast with Will and Grace's Megan Mullally "Some people make make fun of you because of your choices. Those people are assholes." 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer aka Kenneth the Page "Here is a list of birth control methods. Google them!" and Laverne Cox "Lube is your friend. Believe me."

Oh my point, and I do have one... I'm back on birth control. Almost four years after I stopped contracepting. Had I conceived right away, I could be ready for my second Nex.planon device, rather than my first; but whose keeping track of details like that? After three years of passionately pursuing a pregnancy, I'm now back to avoiding one. I'm all too familiar with the spontaneous conception after infertility, and while it would be a wonderful blessing, it would also be a game changer. We would have to move to a larger house in a less expensive area. Maybe even consider going back east to be closer to my parents. We would have to revisit day care arrangements and my commute to work could increase. We've just begun figuring out how to balance our lives with one child, and we're not ready to complicate things by adding a second. I am in awe of all you moms of multiples and more than one kid. I cannot image taking care of a baby if I also had a toddler running around. You are heroes in my book!

When we announced my pregnancy to my parents and disclosed our infertility issues, my mother said, "I'm sure you'll conceive on your own after this baby is born..." Her comment annoyed me, as it sounded like my infertility was just some sort of phase that we were going through. "Actually," I informed her. "If we wanted a second child, I would rather use our remaining embryos than conceive spontaneously." Just as I said those words, my mind flashed back to the time when I proclaimed that I would never do IVF, which turned into a reluctant acceptance that IVF was needed to bring us a baby. Now I saw it superior to a natural conception. I would rather use my known euploid embryos conceived with my just turned 38 year old eggs than get a BFP at age forty-something, which has a high chance of a chromosomal abnormality.

On the subject of our frozen embies, just weeks before Jate was born, we received a letter from XYZ Embryology lab notifying us that we were due to renew our embryo storage if we wanted to keep our embryos available for future use. We really didn't give it any discussion and just paid the $600 fee to maintain our embryos for another year. As baby Jate wasn't born yet, it would have been another opportuntity to tempt fate. We didn't have much of a follow up conversation; if we did have a delivery of a healthy and thriving baby, what decision would we make next year? I think it will be likely that we'll feel our family is complete with Jate (and the whole not getting any younger thing, plus the expense of raising a child) but will we be ready to let go of our embryos in a year?

I know embryo donation is an amazing gift that has allowed many couples to become parents, but for various reasons, it isn't something we feel that we could do. One of my reasons is that it took us 6 embryos to achieve a successful pregnancy. I don't think our embryos would come highly recommended, and I would hate for another couple to invest so many financial and emotional resources to wind up with a BFN. Our intention is to donate our embies for scientific research. Maybe we can help another couple by gaining insight that will avoid multiple failed transfers. I know this is the right decision for us. I also feel strongly about our decision to only have one child. Yet, it doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye to the embryos we fought so hard to produce. It will be a tough day when we do notify XYZ that we've reached our decision. And a sock won't protect my heart...

In other related news, I saw on that my college roommate is expecting her third baby in April. As I keep track of these stats, she was five minutes pregnant with her first when I had my IUD removed and she was five minutes pregnant with her third when Jate was born. I sent her a text to congratulate her, as I half wondered if this was an 'Oops baby'. We met up last year, just before my transfer. I was in Boston watching Husband umpire some field hockey matches and she was in the city visiting her parents. I filled her in on all the details of our infertility journey, including the fact that my RE was two years younger than me. "Everyone is younger than us, Jane. We're old." She revealed that they most likely were done after two children, but weren't ready to officially close down the shop with a vasectomy. She replied that it was a planned pregnancy. "We decided that our family did not feel quite complete, so we rolled the dice." I figured she breastfeed until her second daughter was at least a year, which was at the end of May and she likely conceived in July. Also she has only one ovary and will be hitting the big 4-0 next month. Why is the process to complete her family easier than it is for us?

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Not just another Mommy Blogger

I feel as if I'm stepping out of character, as I feel most of my blog posts are written in more of a journal format and don't address that this is a blog. I started my blog just to express my own thoughts into writing. I didn't really know how the whole process of having "followers" and "following" worked. In fact, Amanda G (who introduced me to blogging) had to explain to me how to use the "add a gadget" feature in order to gain followers. My goal was never to have a large following and I was fairly selective about the blogs included in my feed. I selected women who were about my age, or had similar fertility issues. I also chose women who were generally interesting, throughtful writers and seemed like someone I would befriend in real life. Over the years, I began to regard many fellow bloggers as actual friends. It started with exchanging Christmas cards, then becoming Facebook friends and communicating outside of the blogsphere.

Much like relationship in real life, there have been times when some bloggers come and go. I know many women struggle with what to do with their infertility blog once they become pregnant. During my own pregnancy, I tried to convey the infertility perspective in my updates. I know other bloggers have noted that it seemed easier to write during the dark days of infertility struggles. Posts following a failed cycle practically wrote themselves. If I were really dry for topics, I just had to talk to Myrtle and she'd inspire at least three posts. (she's continued to make a few insensitive remarks, so watch this space...) Recently, I've noted a few of my favourite bloggers have resisted becoming "another mommy blogger".

You are not just another mommy blogger. Over these years we have felt your heartache and pain during your journey. We've cheered each cycle, held our breaths during the 2WW and kept our fingers crossed until the first ultrasound. Beyond infertility, we celebrated your accomplishments at work, travelled with you on vacation and enjoyed the glimpse into your life. Those of us who were IVF virgins relied on the wisdom of the veterans who could lead us through PIO injections and the stress of fertilization reports. We formed a community, a virtual network of support.

Now, perhaps more than ever, we still need that community. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as 'finally have a rainbow baby and live happily ever after!'. Well, hopefully live happily ever after, but as we all know that's not achieved without a lot of work and there still are some difficult times. I know it's harder for Infertility and Pregnancy Loss survivors to complain about the more difficult aspects of motherhood. Perhaps that's why I still feel that I need support from this community. I still fear fertiles could look at me and claim 'well you should have known what you were getting into before you went through the lengths you did!' Your advice is so valuable and your voices are the ones I trust most. I must have read Amanda's post about having a spirited baby almost a hundred times while Jate was in her fussy phase. As she wrote the words, "think of this as a fist bump, a 'solidarity sister', and a hug," it felt tangible.

I know when I was dealing with a pregnancy loss or failed cycle, I skipped reading many X months updates. I felt as if I didn't have anything interesting to contribute in my comments and it was hard to read about something that seemed so far out of my grasp. Now I'm looking through your archives and am taking notes. That's the beauty of a virtual community. You can check in and check out as you please. Just please keep the music going. I can understand if you are too busy to keep writing, or if you've lost interest. Just please don't stop out of fear for the 'another mommy blogger' label. You're not just a mommy blogger. Just as you were so much more than your infertility.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Two Months

A few weeks after my parents left, we had settled into a routine and I felt as if I were hitting my stride. One day I managed to complete three loads of laundry. When I say complete, I mean all clothes were folded and put away. I felt such a sense of accomplishment. Yeah, I think you're going to be ready to go back to work... No sooner than the thought bubble popped over my head, the calendar turned to September, and my leave reached the half-way point. A wave of sadness hit.  In an ideal world, I could work part time and stay home with her part time, but it's not an option, unless we want to relocate to an area with a lower cost of living. It wasn't until Husband discussed starting an earlier bedtime routine that the impact of returning to work really hit. Including my commute time, I spend 10 hours of the day out of the house, so 50 hours per week. If Jate is sleeping 10 hours at night by the time I go back to work (fingers crossed) it leaves approximately 100 hours of non-bed time per week. Working full time turns me into a part time mother. Depressing.

Yet, I feel so guilty complaining. So many women are required to go back at this point. A mere eight weeks, which is not the same thing as two months. I'm trying to savor every day I have left, even if these days feel as if they're blending in to one another. I saw a woman with a four month old and I marveled at the difference in development. I know I'm so fortunate to have some more time so I'll be able to witness this transformation in the next two months. However, I was caught off guard when I looked at her one month picture. She's already changed so much in such amount of time and I didn't really notice even as it was happening right under my nose. Maybe I won't feel as if I'm completely missing out of experiencing her growth and development.

Jate, it's not ladylike to expose your undies...
Oh, never mind. That's my girl.

Nicknames: CupKate, Button, Baby Kate (lame) We're keeping 'Little Bunny' as it is fitting since the picture of her as a hatching blastocyst looks like a rabbit. However, my mother also uses the nickname 'bunny' for the cats.

Stats: Weight 11 lbs 9.6 oz
          Length: 23.25 inches

Eating: Still exclusively breastfed. The key to my milk supply? The nurse at our breastfeeding and baby basics class instructed husbands to bring their wives a beer and a pint of ice cream every night. I enjoy my nightly beer, and sometimes if it's been a rough day with Jate, it becomes a two beer night. I stretch the pint of ice cream to make it last a week, but I've eaten an obscene amount of oatmeal cookies. Like whatever you think is an obscene amount... double that. As she's been sleeping longer, I've been getting up to pump to help maintain this supply and contribute to my frozen stash. I remembered reading a post from Emily of Eat, Love, Procreate  discussing the peek-a-boo bra that allows for hands free pumping. I shared her cynicism for the contraption and filed it away among the 'things that I will never do'. Now it's time to add it to the list of 'things I said I'd never do, but I now embrace...' Not only do I gain some valuable time to look up useless shit on the Internet while pumping at 3 AM, I find that I seem to be able to express more. If you are looking for a hands free bra, make sure it has the hook and latch closure, as it works much better than the ones with a zipper. Oh, and I got the red one with white polka-dots, because... why not?

My other awesome breastfeeding tool is a hand pump. I went out to a dinner meeting with my colleagues and it conflicted with one of my pumping sessions. I was contemplating bringing the pump, but then had to worry about where to plug it in, tying up the bathroom while others are curious about the noise...etc.. I ended up expressing into the sink, just for comfort and to avoid leaking while wearing nice clothes for the first time since Jate's birth, and I wanted to cry as I watched the milk circle the drain. Now I just keep the hand pump in her diaper bag, which has an insulated pocket so I can chill any milk I express. It's convenient, quiet and works remarkably well! It's also useful if there is a power failure. We lost power briefly for an afternoon, which induced a panic over my supply of frozen milk. Some things we learned: It's not a problem during the winter as outdoor temps are below freezing and you can stick it in the snow (for those who have frozen temps and snow...). If the chest freezer is full, it will maintain that temperature for 48 hours if left unopened (24 hours for a half full freezer). Identify your friends who also have a chest freezer and hope they're on a different grid and still have power.

Sleeping: At her one month visit, her paediatrician suggested not letting her sleep more that two and a half hours during the day in order to get her to sleep more during the night. It seemed wrong at first; why would you wake a sleeping baby? However, it worked like a charm. The first time she slept six hours straight, Husband and I both had a dream about getting up to feed her. It wasn't until I looked at the app we were using that I realised she had slept through our imagined feedings. She's been fairly consistent, giving us about 6-7 hours each night, although her PB (personal best)  was eight hours and sometimes she'll only do 3-5 hours at a go. I learned from my baby care class that an infant sleeping uninterrupted stretch of 5 hours is considered 'sleeping through the night'. Yet, I would argue that baby isn't truly sleeping through the night until Mummy is sleeping through the night. There have been a few mornings where after her 7 hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep, she starts waking up every hour. I'm not quite sure what that is all about, but on the third time waking, I'll bring her back to bed with me and she fell asleep on my chest, which is such a wonderful sensation in itself, but it also allows me to get some shut-eye.

Likes: She seems to like spending time on her playmat. I also discovered that I can set up the mat in the hall and watch her while I do the laundry and clean the bathroom. Added bonus: the music isn't too annoying!

Dislikes: She really does not like burping. Although I'm sure she appreciates the sense of relief after releasing some trapped air, she hates the process of burping. If I sit her up, she'll actually push off against her legs into a position that is practically standing. If I put her head over my shoulder, she'll really wail in my ear. Sometimes, the only option is to bounce her on the balance ball. She really likes it, and it will occasionally help sneak a burp out.

Looking forward to: Nothing and Everything. Despite the fact her feeding process is quite involved, and her bed time routine is high maintenance, I'm starting to appreciate that this age represents an easier phase of parenting. She hasn't yet figured out how to put things in her mouth. She's not getting into everything. In fact, I can briefly leave her unattended at her changing table to grab something from the other side of the room, even though you're not supposed to leave them alone for a second, but other mothers assure me that everyone has done it. We can actually take her with us when we go out to dinner and she'll sleep peacefully, which allows us to feel as if we still have an aspect of our old lives, and we're not the couple with the obnoxious child that ruins everyone else's dining experience. She's not crying because some boy broke her heart, or the bitchy girls at school said mean things to her. Yet, I'm so amazed at what she's accomplished in just two months, I can't wait to see what else she can do. Learn to crawl, take her first steps. Be the well behaved child in the restaurant. Realise that they boy wasn't good enough for her and the bitchy girls are just insecure.

Milestones: She started smiling! I was a bit miffed as she would smile at Husband more often than me, but my friend Amy (who has a boy two weeks younger than Jate) shared that her son wouldn't smile at her once during the entire day she spent with him, but would smile within five minutes of her partner's arrival. She's been making 'coo' and 'ahh' sounds and we've been trying to parrot her noises to engage in conversation with her, in the same way that I'll meow back at the cats. (random fact, adult cats do not meow at other cats, just humans). Although we don't do enough tummy time as we should, when her pediatrician put her on her front, she pushed off her arms and held her head high in what resembled a cobra yoga pose, and the doctor recognised as a 4-month milestone.

First Earthquake -She continued to nurse and wasn't phased by the 4.2 rumble
First Wedding Reception -so proud that it was for a same-sex couple!
First Hockey Match -Sorry Jate, there will be a lot of these to follow..
First Swim Team party -yup, these too...

Diapers: I started re-introducing the cloth diapers one per day around 5 weeks. It was also suggested to use Aqua.phor instead of traditional diaper ointment, which works really well. We are now officially cloth diapering part time! I still use the disposables at night and if we are going out, as I don't always know where we'll finding a changing station, but I know at some point I'll be changing her in the boot of my car. As of last week, we had to move up to the 'regular' sized cloth diapers as I was practically holding the newborn sized ones together with scotch tape. The size chart suggests the newborn size will cover 6-12 pounds and the range for regular is 10-25 pounds. Unfortunately Jate inherited my large hips and thighs. I am so sorry, my dear. (The pediatrician also noted that she has swimmer's shoulders. Again, my apologies) We've been using the 'twist' technique to reduce the bulk with the larger cloth diaper. She is still in size 1 for the disposables.

Clothes: Officially in 3 month clothes. Her newborn onesies look so tiny, I can't believe she once fit
in them!

Illnesses: Thankfully no health issues. She did have a small cut on her thumb when Mummy nicked her with the nail clippers (hang head in hands...)

Two months and still giving attitude!