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.

Knowns and Unknowns #MicroblogMondays

What we know after the consultation at our new fertility clinic here last week:

  • We have the option of doing a “natural” or medicated FET
  • Our new RE has said the decision to wean or continue breastfeeding is up to me
  • Coordinating the transatlantic shipping of frozen embryos is tricky enough; doing it between a newly-established practice (which our previous RE opened this month) and a clinic that’s a 5-hour train ride away really sucks
  • Train service in rural Wales is spotty at best, which means we should expect at least part of all future trips to actually happen by bus, if at all
  • Our next appointment is in September, by which time we’re hoping our embryos will have arrived but have no plan for actually doing the transfer

What we still don’t know:

  • What happened to the blood work results that were supposedly sent from my GP but never arrived
  • When we can expect our cryo-kids to arrive
  • How to coordinate among the old (new) clinic, the new clinic, and the shipping company
  • Whether to push weaning or attempt an FET while continuing to breastfeed my two-year-old, who is nowhere near self-weaning

I left feeling confused and disappointed, partly because we still don’t have a plan, and I’m not even sure who’s responsible for each missing piece of the non-plan. Partly because I was hoping this appointment would kick the ambivalence I’ve been feeling about trying for a second child squarely in the arse. But it didn’t.
 Want to participate? Check out Mel’s post to find out how.

That Kid #MicroblogMondays

See that kid? The one who nearly always smells like poo? The one with dark circles under her eyes? The one with greasy hair?

She’s mine.

I’ll be honest: I used to judge those parents who would say, “I can’t make him X, Y, or Z.” I used to comment to my coworkers, “Come on, who’s the parent here?” I used to vow that would never be me.

That was before I had a sensitive and stubborn child of my own. Who is so self-conscious about pooping that she held it in, requiring medical intervention and a laxative that makes holding it impossible, as hard as she still tries. Who fights sleep for up to two hours every. single. night. Who was so traumatized by pooping in the shower that she now refuses to bathe (without an intense struggle, anyway–including many, many tears). 

She’s mine. And as hard and frustrating and exhausting as it is sometimes, I wouldn’t change her for anything.
 Want to participate? Check out Mel’s post to find out how.

The Longest Days

*Poop-related post. Just sayin…*

Summer is officially here. And though the days are beginning to shorten, they’re still plenty long. Sunrise was at 4:56 this morning, and it won’t set until 9:34 tonight. The sky stays light until after 11. The blackout shade in my daughter’s room means she might sleep until 5:30 if I’m very lucky, and it still takes her an hour (on average–it could be anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours) to fall asleep each night.

Regardless of daylight hours, the past week has seemed even longer. I took Missy to the doctor last Friday to see if there was something I could give her to make pooping easier. She’d been holding it in, pacing and terrified to go, until she couldn’t hold it any longer–three, four, up to six days since her previous bowel movement. The poops were hard and difficult to pass after all that time, which I thought was contributing to her anxiety about going. That and her major freak out when she pooped in the shower…twice.

So the nurse practitioner prescribed a laxative. I started out giving her the lowest dose, and it seemed to work. Her poop was softer, but the first full day on the medication, she kept having small, squishy poos, like she was still trying to hold it in but couldn’t quite manage. And she was having several of them a day. Which gave her a horrific rash and woke her up every 15-20 minutes for the first two hours she tried to sleep that night. The rash made wiping painful, which only added to her anxiety, and soon even getting undressed to change into pj’s became a battle. She gets all worked up, cries, pushes away my hands, and flees. It’s hard on me because it makes even the simplest things, like bathing or getting out of the house, nearly impossible, but it’s so much worse on her. My poor baby. I feel so bad for her, and I’m powerless to stop the oozing poo or heal her rash immediately.

When we went back to the nurse today, she recommended increasing the dosage of the laxative, at least until she has a proper poop. She also gave us a cream that should aid in healing her angry red bum, but I’m afraid it won’t happen quickly enough.

And on top of all of this, Hubby has been gone the last two days. He returns tonight, only to turn around and leave again on Monday for a five-day conference. So I’ve been trying to manage a crabby, uncomfortable, traumatized two-year-old on my own, and if the issue isn’t resolved soon, I’ll be doing it again all next week. I hate seeing my little girl in pain, panicked, trembling. I hate that all the comfort I can give isn’t enough. Nothing about that changes when he’s home, except that he feels it, too. Which somehow makes it easier.

On Trying Again #MicroblogMondays

It was nearly two months ago when we first saw the ducklings. Thirteen of them, huddled close to each other, a peeping blob of black fuzz, swimming just behind their mother. As we were pointing and quacking, counting and re-counting (because I couldn’t believe how many there were), another family happened along, stopping to marvel at the new brood. The other mother said something like “Don’t get too attached to all 13 of them….” Sure enough, we looked for them the next day, and the next, and for weeks afterward, but they were nowhere to be found. We saw the adult ducks, a female with one or two males, the two males on their own, but no ducklings. Eventually, I realized there were actually two females and three males, which at first made me hopeful the mother was hiding somewhere with her young, until I saw all five of them within a short stretch of the stream. The ducklings were all gone.

I wondered if the mother or any of the fathers felt a sense of grief. If they would mourn all summer or if there was enough time to try again before they would have to fly off in the fall.

~*~
I didn’t get the job I interviewed for. The executive director, one of the two women who interviewed me, called me herself two days later to say that, although my experience was a good fit and I had interviewed well, they went with someone who had more local knowledge.  She recommended volunteering to get a better idea of the services in the area, which is a great idea, in theory, except that I can’t afford to put my child in daycare if I’m not getting paid. I have since applied at an educational staffing agency, hoping there might be some part-time opportunities starting this fall. I keep looking, keep trying, knowing it’s the only way we’ll be able to afford to travel to see our families as often as we’d like.

~*~
My anxiety about our upcoming FET #2 notwithstanding, the fact is we have three embryos just hanging out in suspended animation, waiting for us to decide what to do about them. They were created at the same time as the two-year-old snuggled next to me, and–whatever trepidation I may feel–we have to give at least one of them the chance to become a sibling for her. For us. For them.

~*~

And then, on Friday, we heard a familiar sound on our way home from the store. Peep peep. Peep peep. There they were. Two, then three fluffy ducklings. They swam so fast they practically skipped across the surface of the water, toward their mother, where their siblings were waiting for the stragglers to catch up. Eight of them all together.

I can’t help it. I took it as a good omen. 

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

Seconds

My Facebook feed is full of babies. And pregnancy announcements. All seconds, sometimes thirds. Same goes for my blog reader. If I’m completely honest–and what is this space for if not honesty?–that’s a big reason I started pulling away last summer and have spent so much time away since. I know that many of those pregnancies did not come without loss, heartache, medical intervention, lifestyle overhauls, countless injections, and copious amounts of money. I want to be nothing-but-happy for each and every one of them, but I have to admit that envy has crept back in. And it’s not always for the same reasons. Sometimes it’s because of the perceived ease of it all; sometimes it’s the well-timed age gap between number one and number two; sometimes it’s that treatment was not prohibited by time, money, and geography; and sometimes it’s that I’m caught completely off-guard.

One of the recent pregnancy announcements that popped up on Facebook was from a woman who has two children two years apart, the youngest of which is nine years old. She’s my age, and I have no idea whether or not this pregnancy was planned, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it. You know how with some people you’re on pins and needles, just waiting for the inevitable, and when it comes, it’s not easy, but you feel that tightness in your chest loosen a little, like you’d been holding your breath for months and hadn’t even realized it? Well, when I read her cryptic announcement, the opposite happened. I forgot how to breathe, like when you take a hard fall and get the wind knocked out of you, and there’s that moment of panic, when all the muscles around your lungs seize up and you feel like you might die before your diaphragm spasms back to life and you finally gasp for air.

With each announcement, I waver between envy and gratitude so violently I end up with whiplash. I want another child–or two–but getting there involves the transatlantic shipping of frozen embryos and a FET we can’t afford right now–all of which guarantees nothing. If we could just, I don’t know, have sex around the time I ovulate, things would be so much easier. On the other hand, I’ve only just started getting stretches of more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time, and I’d kind of like to keep that going for a while. There are days I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water with one child, and I’m left wondering how in the world I’d ever manage with two. The fact that my daughter is so wonderful–caring, smart, silly, spirited, and affectionate–is a double-edged sword. She should be enough, and she is, but having another one like her? Well, that would be twice as nice.

So we’ve started to set things in motion toward trying again. A few weeks ago, we got a letter from our former clinic, where our embryos are stored, saying that the partners are splitting up and each starting a solo practice. What would we like them to do with our embryos, and would we like a copy of our records while they’re at it? That led us to hurry up and see what our options were here. Would any of our treatment be covered by the NHS? (No.) How far would we have to travel to be treated at a clinic with decent stats? (Far.) Yesterday I made the call. We have a consultation appointment in Bristol in July. From there we can figure out the logistics of transporting our frozen future offspring across seven time zones, a process that the person in the lab I talked to guessed could take approximately six weeks. 

I don’t have an adequate vocabulary to describe the waves of anxiety I feel at the mere thought of climbing aboard the treatment roller coaster again. And this time, it doesn’t just affect Hubby and me. There’s a two-year-old girl whose life could be turned upside down for anywhere from a few months to the next eighty-or-so years while we figure out whether or not she’ll be granted a sibling. How I handle that turbulence is going to determine, in large part, how she does the same, so I’ve got to be careful. It’s not do or die, like our attempts to bring her into the world, but it feels like there’s more at stake this time. Because if things go wrong, if we end up with heartbreak instead of a heartbeat, I can’t fall apart. I still have to be her mother. I don’t know if that will make things easier or harder this time around.

ALL the Anxiety

I applied for a job on Monday. Well, that’s not exactly true. I applied more than two weeks ago, but when I sent a follow-up email, discovered that my application had not been received. Cue mild panic attack followed by an entire afternoon and evening of frantically re-applying, using an application form I didn’t even know existed the first time. (Thanks a lot, “universal” job finding-and-applying website.)

And this afternoon, I received an invitation for an interview.

I really want this job. I think I’d be good at it, and it fits my “in my field/part time/no driving/personally and professionally fulfilling” checklist. But the more I think about how perfect it could be, the more the anxiety sets in. My heart pounds, my breathing becomes shallow, my thoughts race.

None of this is new. The older I get, the more I realize just how long I’ve been living with anxiety. But since our move to Wales, it’s been more intense than ever. To the point where I am considering asking for medication, something I have always insisted I could do without. (Not that I’ve even gotten as far as making an appointment to talk about this yet.)

When I was seeing Dr. N, she suggested writing out all the things I was anxious about. So, in no particular order, here goes:

The job. The interview is in a week and a half, which gives me plenty of time to research and prepare. And stress the fuck out. What if I don’t get it? That doesn’t bode well for other job opportunities (or the lack there of) for me here. Without either a car or Welsh language skills, I’m pretty much screwed.

What if I do? And I have to put my daughter in daycare two days a week, after being home with her nearly every minute of every day for over two years? Is it even going to be worth paying for child care when I’m going to be making so little to begin with?

If I answer “yes,” I have to immediately talk myself out of feeling guilty for the following reasons: a) now that she’s two, she really needs to spend some time with other kids, and b) I need to spend some time with other adults talking about something other than my daughter. I need to contribute, if not to our bank account, then to the community we now call home.

Ugh, money. I’m stressed out about it all the time. When we moved, we didn’t really know what we’d be able to afford, housing-wise, and erred on the side of having room for all our shit (and for potential future children) rather than squeezing into a tiny-but-affordable flat. I agonize over this decision almost daily. Because not only do we have to pay rent (which, on its own, isn’t terrible), but we have to pay council taxes, which are based on the value of the property (or the number of windows facing the street, depending on who you ask).

We get by, month after month, but just barely. And if we ever want to see our families, we need to save some money. Flights in and out of here (not to mention the three-hour train ride to and from the airport) are not cheap. My sister cries on Skype when we’re discussing things like birthday parties and my daughter says, “Aunt Zappa coming.” Sorry, baby, no she isn’t.

Same goes for fertility treatments. Before we can even think about doing our next FET, we have to figure out how to get our embryos here, where we’re going to store them, and how much it’s all going to cost. I mentally calculate the age gap between my first and possible second child. And it’s already larger than I had hoped for.

Yeah. What else? Oh, how about friendships. I’ve been trying, but it’s so hard. And I overanalyze every interaction I have, wondering just how much of a weirdo other people think I am. Half the time, I can’t believe I’ve just had a 20 minute conversation about breastfeeding, and the other half, I literally can’t think of a single thing to talk about.

And my husband? Sometimes I’m envious of how smoothly he seems to have made this transition, at least professionally. There are times it feels like we’re going in two different directions. Nothing makes me crazier than when I’ve spent all day chasing after Missy, and he comes home only to sit in front of his computer or the TV while I continue to try to juggle cooking dinner and managing a hungry, tired, and cranky two-year-old. And when I’ve talked to him about it, he insists we’re on the same team. It just doesn’t feel that way. And in the next few months, he has a bunch of work things coming up, which are going to leave me to solo parent for one to four days at a time.

There’s probably more, but Missy just woke up.