Albino Gerbils #MicroblogMondays

My daughter has pink eye. Apparently, that is not a commonly used phrase here, so when I texted my friend to tell her this ailment might impinge on our planned play date, she had to ask me what it was, saying that the only thing she could picture was an albino gerbil. 

This is a problem I encounter frequently. Even though I’ve spoken English my entire life, since living here, I often feel like I’m speaking a foreign language. Diapers are nappies; underwear are pants; pants are trousers. If you’re quick with facts and figures, you’re clever, not smart, but you can look smart if you’re dressed well. If your child doesn’t feel well, he’s poorly, but if he’s sick, he’s actually thrown up. It can be dizzying, and half the time, I feel like I’ve inadvertently insulted someone with one of my Americanisms. Or, at the very least, utterly confused them, and probably myself along the way. Missy has already begun correcting my English: “No, Mommy, it’s time for a nappy change.” (Yeah, still not potty trained, don’t ask.) “No, Mommy, throw it in the bin (not trash).”

My year-long job search has been the most glaring example. Not just unfamiliar terms and phrases for concepts and systems I feel I should have a better grasp on by now, but an entire nonsense language of acronyms and abbreviations for those terms (not unlike being thrust into the world of infertility and fertility treatments): TAQA, QCF, GCSE, NVQ, PGCE, LSA, EWC, KS3. 

Albino gerbils abound.

 Want to participate? Check out Mel’s post to find out how.

Missy at Two…

Plusand a HalfThree-Quarters?…okay, damn near three. But you see how long this post has been in my drafts.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a proper update. After Missy’s second birthday, the weekly babycenter emails I’ve been getting since early in my pregnancy suddenly started referring to my “preschooler.” What?! No! She’s much more toddler than big kid! But at 30 31 33 months, she’s definitely my great big girl, a fact she’s happy to announce to anyone who’ll listen.

And she is a preschooler. She started two mornings a week at the end of September and has settled in nicely. She comes home talking mostly about the grown-ups (which is typical for her; even when we have play dates, she’s much more interested in the mommies than the kids), but she is beginning to play with the tiny people closer to her own age. And there are one or two she tells me she likes to hug (so sweet!).

She is also playing for longer periods by herself. She’ll stay in the playroom for up to 20 minutes while I do some boring thing, like wash dishes or clean the bathroom, although she’s just as happy to “wash” her own dishes right next to me. After ignoring her baby dolls for a while, she’s suddenly all about the babies, feeding and bathing them, giving them medicine and putting them in bed. I attribute her renewed interest to the fact that a few of her playmates have new siblings. I hope it lasts at least until (if) we’re ready to welcome one for her.

Her language skills are booming. Her vocabulary and syntax cover quite a range, sometimes using a single word (“Airplane!”), a complex sentence (“I want to watch something on TV while Mommy makes dinner.”), or anything in between. She makes the most adorable grammatical errors, like referring to herself as “you” (No Mommy help! You do it by yourself!”) or over-generalizing past tense (Mommy camed to get you [me].”) She’s not quite as advanced in Hubby’s language and sometimes insists on speaking to him in English, but she continues to impress him with how quickly she learns new words. She continues to sing, sing, sing, and is more likely to belt it out for all to hear, though she continues to whisper-sing, especially in a crowd.

She understands concepts, like counting (up to 20 in both languages), colors, shapes, before/after, and comparisons. One of her favorite phrases is “it’s just like…” She describes food by shape (“It looks like a circle/square/oval/triangle.”), flavor (“tart,” “sweet,” “a little bit spicy,”), color and temperature. She sings the ABC song and can identify a few letters and numbers. 

Bedtime continues to be a challenge, and lately she’s been waking up at least twice a night. We’re no closer to toilet training than we were months ago. She likes her froggy toilet seat and can climb onto it by herself, but she refuses to take off her pants, let alone her diaper, when sitting on it.

Missy has been amazingly affectionate lately, giving lots of hugs and kisses, and making exclamations such as “I love Aba so much. He’s soo nice!” It turns me into a puddle every time, but then she turns around and says the same thing to her stuffed koala.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of challenging moments; she is a stubborn and sensitive nearly-threenager. And just because she can talk your ear off, that doesn’t mean she can always explain her desires or fears (like pooping, or bathing, or the vacuum cleaner). Tantrums are a thing, for sure, but so are intense, tearful freak-outs, sometimes at the most inconvenient times (like trying to get out the door to preschool or, you know, anywhere). Sometimes it’s difficult to be as compassionate with her as I need to be, especially when she insists on so thoroughly disrupting my sleep, but I have to keep reminding myself that’s what she needs. More than learning numbers or colors or how to use the toilet, sometimes she just needs a hug. Don’t we all?

Doing it wrong #MicroblogMondays

Ever have one of those days when you second-guess every parenting decision you’ve ever made?

  • On potty-training (or lack thereof): the medication that was supposed to make pooping easier only contributes to a) my daughter’s tendency to hold it in–which is proving to be a near-impossible feat of both physical strength and iron will at this point, given the consistency–and b) the raw and bleeding diaper rash that got her sent home from preschool.
  • On extended breastfeeding: the highly anticipated dreaded dropping of the nap time feed turns out to go much more smoothly than expected. Could I have done this months ago?
  • On sleeping through the night: Ha! My nearly-three-year-old continues to wake with the frequency of a newborn, prompting mommy to climb into bed with her out of desperation/exhaustion, thus continuing the vicious cycle.
  • On attempting number 2?: too many thoughts on this. I. just. can’t.

Could be worse, I guess.

   
  Want to participate? Check out Mel’s post to find out how.

I Could Be Writing

I could be writing, but the scale model of the Himalayas in my kitchen isn’t going to wash itself.

I could be writing, but the laundry.

I could be writing, but I want to finish knitting this scarf for Missy (the one I’ve started and re-started three times already).

I could be writing, but she wants me to play grocery store with her and the new cash register she got for Christmas.

I could be writing, but I’m just. so. tired.

I could be writing, but Hubby wants to watch a movie.

I could be writing, but the toy box has exploded all over the living room.

I could be writing, but I should probably make more of an effort to get my daughter outside while it’s not raining.

I could be writing, but watching tv takes far less energy.

I could be writing, but I’m pretty sure my family’s going to want dinner sometime this evening.

I could be writing, but I need to do those exercises the physiotherapist said would help my back.

I could be writing, but I have to vacuum while Missy is out of the house at preschool.

I could be writing, but first I should check to see if there are any new job listings anywhere near my area of expertise.

I could be writing a blog post, but that means I need to catch up with reading everyone else’s blog posts, and that’ll take ages.

I could be writing in my designated space, but it’s still housing multiple half-unpacked boxes, including the ones for Christmas decorations, which I should think about taking down…

I could be writing, but…I’m out of excuses.

I started an update on Missy months ago, but never seem to finish it. I’ve been emailing my friend Sincerity lately, and she’s investing so much time and energy into her own writing, even considering an MFA. Someone recently asked me what I do for recreation, and I couldn’t come up with an answer. The words “I used to write” keep interrupting my thoughts, taunting and tormenting me.

Don’t call it a new year’s resolution. I never was good at sticking with those. Instead, call it an awareness of an absence in my life. A hole that used to be filled with scribbling and rearranging words on a page. A crisis (?) of identity that stems from more than the excuses that I don’t have the time anymore. 

It’s possible to be a mother and a writer. Well, maybe not a “writer,” but certainly someone who writes, at least on occasion. Even when my daughter is still so young, so dependent on me, such a poor sleeper (still) that it keeps me from sleeping, too?

There’s only one way to find out….

A due date of a different kind #MicroblogMondays

Our frozen embryos left our old RE’s new clinic on Friday. They are due to arrive at our new clinic here in the UK sometime today. Finally. We’re not planning to do our FET until early next year, but I’ll be so relieved to know they’ve arrived safely at their (our) new home.
 Want to participate? Check out Mel’s post to find out how.

DIY

“Want do it by yourself!” 

Okay, so maybe she hasn’t mastered personal pronouns, but the girl sure knows what she wants. She is fiercely, stubbornly independent. In the grocery store (Want hold basket by yourself!), coming home from the park (Want push it [the stroller] by yourself!), brushing her teeth (Can Mommy help you? No! Do it by yourself!). There’s no reasoning with her. Usually I just have to let her try until she gets frustrated and asks for help. Which can take a surprisingly long time. If only I could help her harness these powers for good…”Hey, bug, can Mommy help you vacuum/wash the dishes/scrub the toilet?” “No! Do it by yourself!” Ha ha ha.

***

Last Tuesday, I spent the majority of the evening stressed out over an email exchange with the embryologist at our old RE’s office. It went something like this:

Embryologist: So, I really need to send some test results to your new clinic, but I can’t find them. Do you happen to have a copy?

Me: Uh, no. Are they not in the chart? Or can you check with XYZ Labs?

E: Yeah, well, that’s the thing. I don’t have your chart, and Dr. C doesn’t have your chart. I tried contacting Dr. T’s office [Dr. C’s former partner], but no luck there, either. Maybe you’d have better luck if you contacted them yourself?

So I spent a few minutes fuming, indignant that they’d somehow lost my chart while moving offices. Then I calculated the time difference and used Skype to call Dr. T’s office.

Me: Hi, I’m a former patient of Dr. C’s. We’re trying to transport our embryos to Wales, but they need a test result that they can’t seem to find, and they thought maybe it was in a copy of my chart at your office?

Receptionist: We don’t have any of Dr. C’s patient charts.

Me: Oh. Well there was some mention of a storage facility. Any chance it’s there?

R: None of Dr. C’s charts are in our storage. Let me just check to make sure you were actually Dr. C’s patient. (tap tap tappity tap) Yeah, no. We don’t have your chart.

Yeah. So, more silent cursing, and then a call to Dr. C’s office.

Me: Hi. I’m a former patient of Dr. C’s…blah blah blah…transporting embryos…blah blah blah….There seems to be some confusion about the location of my chart…?

Super-efficient receptionist: Let me just check to see whether it’s here in the office or in storage. (tappity tap tap) Yes, it’s here. I’ll just pull it and get it to the embryologist.

Not five minutes later, I get an email.

Embryologist: A miracle has happened! Someone just brought me your chart. What?!

Me: Yeah, I just called to make sure it was there. I hope you find what you need.

E: I still can’t even believe your chart just appeared out of thin air! I’ll send these results right away.

What’s that saying about wanting something done right? Yeah, even from effing Wales, apparently.

***

On a brighter note, our play date with K and E was awesome. I had hoped to bring them gifts (for both E and her soon-to-be baby sister), but by the time I figured out just what that would be, I ran out of time to finish before that Sunday afternoon. 

Since I had recently found out they were having another girl, I wasn’t sure exactly what they’d need. Surely they’d have clothes and things, and they use cloth diapers, so they wouldn’t need those, either. Then I thought of making them something myself. I remembered seeing a pattern for a bunny made from a simple knit square (just google it and you’ll find a million how-to’s). I decided to make a bigger one for E and a smaller one for the baby. I even managed to put a rattle inside. I’m so stoked to give them to K and E next time we see them!

***

I started this post well before last Friday’s sad news, but guess what? I’ve been solo parenting all week again. I’m not exactly resentful of my husband for leaving (this time–not so the multiple other times over the summer he was gone for days at a time to attend one conference or another). It’s not so different from what I do all day while he’s at work, anyway. And it’s not too bad–except when it is. Like when my daughter is screaming and desperately trying to buck herself out of the stroller while I’m pushing it uphill through the middle of town just to get us to the park so she can run around a while–which you’d think she’d be happy about! Or when she’s exhausted but refuses to stay in bed and makes increasingly ridiculous requests demands, like that she has to have the tissue with the puppies on it and only the penguin hand puppet is allowed to wipe her nose. Or when it’s been raining for two days straight and we’re both going crazy and getting a little sick of being cooped up together, and Mommy resorts to googling kids dance videos just to get her moving.

Only two more days to go….

Gone.

As I write this, Hubby is on a plane, headed to his home country.*

His uncle died on Friday.

His father’s only brother, the one who never married, never had children of his own, who spoiled his nephews and their children instead.

The one whose generosity, in part, allowed us to complete a second cycle of IVF, which resulted in our daughter. Before he even met her in person, he said, “Never have I invested so little and gotten so much.” That investment might give her a sibling, too, and he’ll never know.

He was 87. He lived a long life, with friends and hobbies that kept his mind sharp. It was his body that couldn’t quite keep up.

When I put Missy to bed tonight, after trying to explain why we’d been missing Aba, why we’d all been sad, in a way her 2-year-old brain could comprehend, she kept repeating, “T. died. Aba saying bye to T.” And even though we had decided it would be better for him to go by himself, rather than subject Missy to a long day of travel and a disrupted schedule, just to turn around a few days later and do it again, I wished we had gone with him. Not that being there would help her understand, but at least we’d be able to process it together.

*I started writing this Sunday night. But we were right to keep Missy home. He said he’d only gotten two hours of sleep on the plane (and that was after a five-hour trip, via train and underground, to even get to the airport).

 Want to participate? Check out Mel’s post to find out how.

Happy Thoughts Thursday: End-of-the-week blahs

I know my last post was a bit of a downer. That’s sort of how I’ve been feeling lately, for no good reason. I think it’s partly just being in limbo again. Partly it’s the boredom of this summer. So I’m trying to remember that, contrary to what I might be feeling, some things are going right. (And here we go with more bullets.)

  • Hubby is buying a bike with a child seat installed on the back, and he’s so excited to take Missy for a ride. She’s pretty excited, too, and was thrilled to choose her own helmet.
  • We have a play date! After months of trying and failing to pin down a date with our first friends here, K and her daughter E, we finally have plans to meet up on Sunday! Yay! This might be our last chance to catch up before the arrival of daughter #2, due next month (via surrogate).
  • My sister had hoped to make a trip to Wales in September, but before she could buy a plane ticket, she was in a car accident. She’s okay, but the money she would have spent on her trip is now going to pay the ticket she got and the deductible on her insurance. BUT–she’s more determined than ever to make the trip happen, hopefully in January or February.
  • We received part of the money we were waiting for, and I have officially accepted the quote the shipping company gave us for transporting the embryos. The two clinics have already been in touch and are hopefully finalizing details to ensure clinic A meets clinic B’s standards so that they can accept the embryos. It finally feels like things are moving forward.
  • Missy is just so much fun these days. Her imagination is amazing, her languages are coming right along, and she knows ALL THE SONGS (not that you’d be able to tell because she still whispers them). And–I don’t want to jinx anything here–she’s been sleeping so. much. better. Like, 9-10 hours straight. It’s awesome.

If anyone is still reading this late in the week, I hope you have a fantastic weekend! It’s actually supposed to be sunny and warm here, so we’ll be getting out to enjoy it!

Must…click…post. #MicroblogMondays

Four weeks since my last post. I knew it had been a while, but jeez. I’ve been sort of floating in limbo again. In no particular order, the things I’ve been meaning to write about but haven’t:

  • My decision to very gradually wean Missy. If she’s fully weaned by the time we’re ready for our FET, great. If not, the drugs I’ll have to take might do the trick (by decreasing my supply and/or changing the flavor of my milk–there’s no reason to believe they’d actually do her any harm). By then, she’ll be at least two-and-a-half, so I won’t be able to blame myself for cutting our breastfeeding relationship short, whether or not our attempts result in a second child.
  • I may or may not be able to start working in September. All of my references have finally come through, but one of the childcare centers here recently closed, so I might not have anywhere to take Missy while I am (still hypothetically, at this point) working because the remaining options have all filled up.
  • Things have been progressing on the embryo transport front, but we’re still nowhere near getting a shipping date. There’s a long list of criteria our old clinic needs to prove they’ve met before our new clinic will be able to approve the transport, plus we’re still waiting for the money Hubby is transferring from an account in his home country so we can pay for it.
  • I’ve been making efforts to get my body ready to house another human again. I’ve cut way down on my sugar intake and have started doing yoga again. I wish I could say I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my energy levels, but I’m still just tired all the time. And my back hurts.
  • The schools are on summer break, which means all of the family/toddler activities we normally do during the week are also taking a break. We’ve been going to the park or the beach, as long as the weather’s nice, but haven’t had a proper play date since the end of the term. I have numbers in my phone I could text, but I don’t. We’ve lived here ten months, but there’s no one I see or talk to on a regular basis (outside of organized groups). I’ve always known it, but I really suck at making friends.

 Want to participate? Check out Mel’s post to find out how.