Monday, 29 October 2012

That type of parents

It's a weird thing. When I was going through infertility treatment, I became aware of how invisible and unremarkable I felt. People with children seemed to get far more attention, like the world was rubbing my childlessness in my face.

I don't seek out attention with the Boy, and sometimes it still feels a little bit strange when people coo over him. Part of me always thinks, how did this happen?

It's not always a good thing, though, being more visible. We were staying in a hotel and ate out. The Boy had been pretty good all day, but went bonkers as soon as I tried to put him on his high chair.

To make matters worse, it was one of those sorts of hotels where everyone has discreetly murmured conversations and you can just hear the odd word and the chink of cutlery. Tartan carpets and the faint smell of wee, overly boiled carrots with everything and slightly overly-formal service. If you've ever stayed in the UK in a country hotel, then the chances are you'll know what I'm talking about. The Boy seemed super-loud.

The staff had sat us right at the far end of the room from the door, so we were going to disturb more people by taking him out. The woman next to me spoke English with an unidentifiable and completely incomprehensible accent. She said something to me when I sat down and I didn't want to end up in one of those conversations where you say "pardon?" all the time, so I smiled and nodded a lot.

When the Boy kicked off, I took off the high chair and fed him on my knee. He kept screaming. I breastfed him, just to get him to be quiet, and Incomprehensible Lady kept whispering to her companion, making me extremely paranoid. I ended up frantically scoffing my food while breastfeeding and whisking him out the instant that we'd finished, while my husband sorted us out with a bottle of wine to drink in the safety of our room.

It is a slightly tricky one. I always feel bad that we might be disturbing other people's peace. But there was no way around eating where we did - there wasn't even a takeaway in the village we were staying in, and, for reasons too complicated to go into, we had to be there. I don't mind not taking the Boy to fancy places, or trying to minimise disruption. But you can't live in a cupboard either.

It wasn't all bad. At breakfast time the Boy was all gummy smiles at old ladies, easily charming interested passers by. Which didn't include a childless couple sitting close to us. I really hoped that the Boy, in either his smiling or wailing modes, wasn't going to cause them any heartache. Because babies are almost always noticeable.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The bearded lady

I noticed I was sprouting two hairs on my chin shortly after my 25th birthday. This was liveable with, with tweezers. Then a few more sprouted. Rigorous plucking kept things at bay. Although running my fingers over my chin and feeling a sharp, stubby hair poking out always fills me with irritation - and I can't settle until it is out!

In hospital, when having the Boy, I obviously wasn't paying much attention to my facial hair regime. A couple of days into recovery I realised I was looking, well, hairy. Like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings sort of level. A couple of hairs were long, under-the-chin specimens. Eugh.

The hair keeps on marching on. Soon, if I do not keep up rigorous work with the tweezers and waxing strips, I won't be able to walk down the street without being mistaken for Osama bin Laden. Minus the robes and flowing locks, and kidney dialysis machine.

I mean, it's probably not that bad. I've seen pictures of people with PCOS who had it worse. I've also seen less hairy women too, though.

It's fucking annoying though. Why? Where does it come from? Why do women start sporting taches and beards?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

My ICLW Tale Of Woe

I feel like a bit of a shit after the last ICLW.

I started off with good intentions. I missed a day's commenting but was going to catch up.

Then, on the evening of Day 2, I had a really bad stomach upset. Very very bad. I'm sure you can imagine.
 I had eaten out and had some pains, like I was going to have a gallstone attack. So, for the first time, I took the meds I'm meant to take during a flare. I don't know if it was the gallstones themselves, the meds, the fact that there was a stomach bug going around anyway, or the restaurant I'd eaten at served dodgy food, or some sort of hideous combination of the four. But I don't think I've ever had such an upset tummy.I had to get up at least hourly through the night.

Ironically, the Boy slept very well.

The next day, I felt shattered - unusually, I plonked the Boy in front of the television as I just couldn't face entertaining him. And did a little bit of commenting, although mainly returning comments.

Then my husband got the stomach bug. While I'd more or less had to get on with things during my bout of illness, his was apparently much worse - although given he managed to get a good night's sleep (not that I'm bitter...). If it hadn't been for an unscheduled appearance by my parents, I'm not sure how we would have coped.

Then he got better, and my fucking stomach bug came back. We'd gone out for the day, thinking I was in the clear, and I ended up with bad stomach pains and hopping from cafe to cafe to go to the toilet. That was fun.

The Boy, mercifully, didn't get the vomiting and diarrhea. But he did go absolutely batshit with his sleeping schedule; after sleeping through when I was up, he then had a few nights in a row of getting up in the early hours and resolutely refusing to sleep. I don't know if he had some sort of version of the illness or whether my wakeful nights caught up with him.

The only time he hurled was when I really, really needed to rest and cracked and gave him the emergency carton of formula we'd been carrying about since he was a couple of weeks old. He drank it and then puked it all up, all over my husband. Apparently this often happens when breastfed babies get formula, or so I discovered afterwards.

I couldn't take anything for the stomach upset because I was breastfeeding. I asked in pharmacists and a homeopathic medicine shop on the cafe-heavy day out. Nada. I nearly took some immodium anyway, because I was so fed up. But I was worried that it might harm the Boy.

Anyway, after all that, I kind of abandoned ICLW. Although "abandoning" makes it sound like it was a conscious decision - it was more that I just had to really, really do what I had to do and rest where I could. And then I felt really bad afterwards because I'd effectively freeloaded. I mean, it wasn't a life threatening condition, or anything (although it did really wipe me out).

So, I am sitting this one out as penance. And then I will try and do an Iron Commentor to make up for it at some point in the future.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The undeserving

Sometimes a way to come to terms with infertility and losses is to reflect that it's made you a more compassionate and understanding person - not perhaps in the throes of IVF or in the white hot grief of a loss, but afterwards, when everything has settled.

I suspect everyone who has been through IF knows someone who, privately, they think would rather gain from empathy gained in this way. Not from an actual loss or long term treatment or anything very bad. Just, maybe, a little delay before falling pregnant with #2 or #3, to make them realise it might not be as easy as just relaxing.

A pair of my friends, it turns out, are going through the horrible process that is repeat testing to check the viability of a pregnancy. Both of them were immensely kind to us during the dark days of IVF failures and loss. They've already been through one loss themselves.

It just makes me angry, godammit. There are plenty of other people out there in the world who weren't as nice as them to start off with. There are lots of couples who deserve a pregnancy less, who haven't tried as hard, who haven't had a loss. They don't need to go through a journey, to reflect and think "That was crap. But you know what, it did make me a better person in the end, and I'll be a better person as a result." Because they've always been lovely to people going through bad times, and don't need the wisdom that bad things sometimes bring.

Except, it doesn't work like that. There aren't a finite number of pregnancies or miscarriages or failed cycles in the world. You can't allocate good outcomes to people who are kind or have been through enough already. You can't share the minority's pain of long term treatment, multiple losses or invasive diagnostics amongst the "oh, gosh, I just need to look at my husband. Maybe you should try acupuncture?" brigade, or even the people who have had very little going wrong in any area of their life, to make it all even and fair.

I still wish you could, though.

Friday, 12 October 2012

You again

I got up today, went to the toilet and realised my period had started.

It's been a long time - over a year. I haven't missed it.

It seems kind of pointless, really - I'm never going to conceive without IVF, so it's just a reminder every month that I cannot, will not, get pregnant on my own. Still, I suppose the fact that it's there will help us with Number 2, if there ever is to be one.

That's another thing. In the last couple of days, I've started back at work, part time. Which I have another few months of, before I'm back. We've moved from the pram attachment to the pushchair attachment. The Boy has a bigger seat. I have chucked a lot of my pregnancy clothes, but couldn't quite bear to let some of the maternity clothes I liked go.

It's all focusing my mind on whether I should quit the IVF game when we're ahead, or stagger back into the casino for more thrills, spills and heartache. I do find myself mentally totting up how we'd get the money together for a fresh cycle.

But right now, I know I shouldn't worry about it. I have lots on my mind. Like where I put my tampons...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Magic moments

Things that make the Boy laugh...

Me blowing on his tummy
Me squeezing his tummy (gently!)
Getting bounced on parental and grand-parental knees
Smacking his father in the face
His play mat, sometimes
The little bear toy one of our friends got him
The nicest moment in the last week was when we got back after I'd taken him overnight to my parents. It was the first time he'd been apart from my husband for that length of time. My husband picked us up from the station. I hadn't noticed the Boy missing him - he had too much attention from granny and grandad. But as soon as the Boy saw his Dad on the platform, his face split into a massive grin. 

Ah... it's all worth it!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Part of the furniture

Just after the Boy was born, we got him a bouncy chair. We went for one of the cheaper ones, as I'd read they were easier to bounce. Of course, the Boy was too little to bounce in it at first.

Over the last four months, it has been well used. Battered, even. We lost the electric unit that originally fitted into the base - I couldn't stand the tinny rendition of "Sealed With A Kiss", although it always reminded me of Jason Donovan covering the song in my childhood, and the Boy didn't like the vibrate setting.

It came with two little toys that attached to the front. First the Boy batted them with his fists, then learned to uncertainly grasp them between his fingers. Then, when we stuck them to the front with their velcro straps, he would immediately reach forward and rip them off, and chew them.

The chair has gone everywhere with the Boy that involved an overnight stay. I've gotten used to it, even although it is stained beginning to fray where the joints have rubbed against the fabric. It's not a thing of great beauty, but it's very useful and the Boy now loves bouncing in it.

We've noticed, in the last couple of days, that the Boy is now able to learn forward when he's sitting in the chair. So,very soon, we're going to need to get rid of it, before he's strong enough to flip it over.

It's great he's getting so big, and thriving. It's all a sign that his tiny-baby stage is passing all too quickly.

So, there are a lot of memories attached to the chair. But, while I obviously wonder if we will ever need another one, I don't want to end up getting massively attached to every vest, teething toy and weaning spoon the Boy uses. Life is too short. And there's always going to be some other bit of kit waiting to take up space.

I'll always think of the Boy being a baby when I hear "Sealed With A Kiss", though.

Friday, 5 October 2012


Before the Boy, I knew about the formula vs breastfeeding debate, the disposable vs reusable nappy debate, the natural birth vs a section debate, and all the others. Roughly, you can group them into a "I'm going to be as natural as possible and save the planet" and a "A bit of technology and convenience goes a long way, and can sometimes be essential".

I didn't know about the early weaning debate, about whether or not babies should get any food before 6 months.

On one side, there is WHO, websites like Kellymom, and various other right-on people. Giving solids before 6 months can damage your baby's health, they say. Wait, let them go straight onto meat, dairy, chunkier food. Avoid the evils of the baby food industry and the monotony of purees.

On the other side, there is the baby food industry, most older people, who remember when babies were weaned at 12 weeks. The only evidence is that babies should not get solids before 17 weeks. There's some evidence that waiting until 6 months can mean your son or daughter is more likely to develop allergies. Older health professionals generally have a "every baby is different" approach, which makes sense to me.

 I find the supermarket aisle that's full of lurid looking baby food a bit alarming, though. Over the years, I've gradually stopped eating ready meals. There's something that goes against the grain to make the Boy eat stuff out a packet or a jar when I find most processed food flavourless, and full of suspicious chemicals. I can understand using them occasionally - but the idea of giving jars all the time is not appealing.

So, I've started giving the Boy food before 6 months, but only home cooked, so far. It feels like the right choice - he's certainly interested, and positively enjoys chowing down on mashed bananas, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, swede, and other sweet root veg. He usually makes cooing noises, and occasionally shouts at us if we don't feed him fast enough. He has had several attempts at feeding himself with the spoon, with more enthusiasm than skill - he usually ends up smearing a fair bit of the food over his face before it finds his mouth. He's not so keen on potatoes, but I can live with that.

As usual, I find the "natural is best" camp slightly frustrating - it seems to be as much about judging as anything else. There's too much ideology involved, I think. Somewhere along the line, being pro breastfeeding appears to have turned into wanting to breastfeed exclusively for as long as you possibly can, and be positively delighted if your baby doesn't want any food at 6 months. I don't think giving some pureed parsnip at 18 weeks is the same as putting a rusk in the bottle at 8 weeks, or shoveling additives, vodka or crack into his little mouth, but some of the early weaning hardliners definitely seem to believe it is. I think some of the smugness attached to this makes it less likely that some women will ask advice.

Anyway, we will carry on with the purees. Anyway, it's not at all long before we hit the six month mark, and then the fun will really begin.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Sorry, I've been crap at ICLW and commenting. And even blogging. This is what's been going on, chez Sushi.

Back to work: Not yet, not quite yet.  But I am getting more to do from home, and actually having to go into the world is very close now, a couple of weeks away. And it sucks.

The four month sleep regression: I thought the Boy was doing so well with sleeping. For the last wee while - I'm not exactly sure how many nights - he's been pretty bad. All the cliches about going back to the newborn sleeping apply. He is the clockwork Satan - albeit a very cuddly one - when he's jerking about and shouting at 3am, apparently trying to burn off excess energy. The reward seemingly is that, at the end of this, he'll be more mobile and generally a lot more grown up. The bad news is that this phase can take three months or more. But hey, he's still spent much less time growing than he did in the freezer, and this is much easier than IVF  (the agony of long haul treatment starts to fade a little when you're just trying to deal with stuff, but I keep reminding myself that it really wasn't as bad as the short haul bout of sleeplessness I face at the moment).

Skitters: Yum! Yep, I had a really terrible stomach upset that seems to be doing the rounds. Ironically, the last night the Boy slept normally was the one when the tummy bug kicked in and I was up every hour.

Eating: I need to do a longer post about people being ideologically opposed to solid food. And me being mostly ideologically opposed to jarred food. But the Boy is chowing down on a happy middle ground of purred root veg and banana. He really enjoys it, to the point he occasionally shouts at us if we don't have a spoonful ready the second he's swallowed the one he's on. And if we're not, he grabs the spoon and his dinner ends up coating his eyebrows.

 Mum: My mum has gone from being convinced I have gallstones because I eat deep fried pizza all the time to being convinced it's because I fucked about with my hormones too much during IVF. The former isn't true. The latter might be, but I still resent her telling my sister she hopes I don't try for number 2.

What else:I still haven't found the Boy's passport. I made kimchi the other night. Which reminds me - I want to dance to that Gangnam Style jobby before it passes from it's very brief moment at the pinnacle of cool to being tomorrow's "Agadoo" (But I suspect it will have passed its sell by date by the time I'm ready to go within a mile of a nightclub!).

And I will catch up with everyone's blogs soon.