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!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

2015 Challege: Completed!

It look just over seven months, and required a lot of help from my Dad, but our garage is finished!

His first task was painting the garage doors, which had to be done within 30 days per our HOA regulations. It also had to match the original colour.

Next he installed a new exterior door. The blinds are actually built into the window. My mother painted the door. It needs to be re-done.

When we moved into our house, we decided to remove the plantation shutters that covered the sliding glass doors in the living room, as they were so big and bulky and occupied so much space. They've been stored in our garage, but we decided to repurpose them to cover the furnace and hot water heater, while providing ventilation. 

There was quite a bit of discussion and debate as to how to set up the hanging racks. We painted boards and fixed to the wall before installing a hanging system that will hopefully hold up during an earthquake.

Finally, we are able to keep both cars in the garage. My first trip out with Jate, I was so nervous that I forgot to open the garage door before I started backing the car out and I put a minor dent in the door. So far, Husband hasn't noticed. Shhh! don't tell!