20 months: Climbing, sliding and somersaulting

Baby N has now passed his 20-month-old birthday and is now hurtling towards two years old. Up until now when people asked me his age I would reply in months but now I say “he’s almost two”, and then I think to myself, how is he almost two and where did the past two years go? I also think I have said from about nine months old that each milestone is my favourite age group so I think all age groups except for the newborn phase are pretty awesome in their own ways.

Right now N seems to be growing in his intelligence and capability literally by the second. His awareness and ability to observe something and then replicate it is remarkable. He watches everything I do and is obsessed with then doing those things himself, particularly chores around the home. He will regularly pull out the broom and sweep up the crumbs on the kitchen floor, or grab the step ladder and drag it to the kitchen sink so that he can reach to “help” wash up the dishes. He will also take the cats’ litter scoop and start shovelling cat litter in the vicinity of the little bin I have for cat poo. Unfortunately he does make more of a mess than anything else but I’m thinking this is good training for the future so I can get him to clean up after the cats. Haha!

Meanwhile, his love affair with food of all kinds shows no sign of abating and a few days ago, in a particularly hungry moment where apparently I wasn’t preparing dinner fast enough, he went to the bin and fished out a nasty strawberry I had discarded and started eating it! Obviously I was appalled and took it from him mouth before getting him something else to munch until dinner was ready, but seriously my kid is taking food from the bin?!! WTF?!!

N is continuing to be a head taller than all other children his age and I generally buy clothes for him that are for a 3-4 year old now. He wears European size 25 shoes, which I think is about size 8.5 in US sizes. His appetite matches his size and I am having to constantly carry snacks just in case he gets the munchies while we are out and about. Thankfully he has pretty broad tastes so will happily eat fruit as a snack which is fantastic. Top favourites continue to be strawberries and grapes, but he likes most fruit from bananas, apples, pears, kiwis, watermelon and the list goes on.

These days he is especially delighted to eat any food with a fork, stabbing the food and then feeding himself completely self-sufficiently. I honestly feel like this is one of my greatest parenting triumphs the fact he can mainly eat self-sufficiently. I try and give him as many foods as I can that can be eaten with a fork as it makes him so happy, so things like small pieces of chicken, frittata, cucumber pieces (peeled) and even cheese can be eaten with a fork. The other day I even caught N eating corn kernels individually as he managed to stab one of them at a time with his fork. I guess this is the way to diet effectively! Haha!

He is getting better with a spoon though and when he’s really, really hungry he will spoon food into his own mouth quite effectively. If he’s not so hungry or bored or not in the mood, he won’t do it himself though so I do feed him on these occasions.

Other things that make N super-happy these days are as follows:

  • Being outdoors generally – he cannot be contained inside and so bad weather days are a special kind of nightmare. He is also super-high energy so I literally have to run the beans out of him each day to tire him out.
  • The car – he insists on sitting in the driver’s seat and “driving” the car before going anywhere and on arriving back home. This is something his dad started with him and I curse him for it every day. Some days I don’t let him do his few minutes sitting in the front seat and he gets so upset with me.
  • Climbing the sofa and doing somersaults off the sofa (it’s a nightmare whereby many, many cushions have to be employed for safety reasons)
  • Buttons and switches, being turned on and off repeatedly. He is also getting more capable with operating our phones, daddy’s computer and the TV remotes. He now knows what specific buttons do and can select them consciously.
  • Slides – he can climb the stairs and slide them completely independently, although sometimes on the steeper ones we have to catch him at the bottom before he shoots off it and bumps his head
  • Water, any kind of water – this includes the bath, running taps, puddles, water I may be trying to drink out of a glass or even the bowl of water left out for the cats
  • Electric gates opening and closing, very exciting
  • Buses and the rubbish truck
  • The moon, also very exciting and requires a lot of pointing at it
  • Ducks, geese and turtles at the local lake
  • Little Bunny Foo Foo
  • His monkey cuddly toy – he has two of them which are completely identical but one is older than the other. He knows the difference and will not accept the newer one
  • Specific dummies/pacifiers. He will pick them up and inspect them individually like a an antiques dealer inspects your grandmother’s old jewellery and will only accept them if they are one of the approved dummies (no idea why some are acceptable and others are not)

On a regular day where he is well slept and happy he is a ray of sunshine and I’m so happy to have him in my life. I have recognised that when I’m around him I am more happy and it does help with my grief. It doesn’t make it go away but it helps me to focus on the bigger picture and that is my responsibility to help him grow into a capable, happy person.

My health has improved over the past few weeks which is due to a few things including my doctor reducing the dose of my medications and also trying to get some more sleep. I still look pretty crap with steroid-induced puffy cheeks and big bags under my eyes. Also, my body looks pretty flabby right now as the steroids make you get a bit frumpy around the middle. I stopped caring at some point as I was just so sick and eating well seemed to be quite low down on my list of caring. But now that I’m starting to be a bit more well again and summer is coming I’m thinking maybe I should try and work on my fitness and figure again.

Mentally I have been see-sawing a bit. Some days I am mainly fine and able to cope. Then I have found I have been having some rage moments where I have a disproportionate response to something that has annoyed me. I am definitely not zen so I now think I need to work on that and just try and choose my fights (and maybe not shout at everyone when I do feel the need to fight). My inner mamma bear has been turning into my outer mamma bear a bit too much recently.

Then I have some days where I just feel completely devoid of energy because I am just so damned sad. Being sad really drains you of energy. I miss my mum so much and I cannot overcome the feeling of how unfair it is that she’s not here anymore. I try and talk about her a lot, make jokes about certain things that she wouldn’t approve of. For example, my husband was trying on jeans today that had rips in them and we both agreed my mum would not approve of not only the fact they had rips in them, but actually having to pay extra for the rips. I have many photos of Mum at home and it’s nice to see her face every day but it does feel surreal. Like she is still sitting at her home and doing her thing there and all of this has been a terrible dream.

Does anyone out there have any experience with grief? How on earth are you meant to get over such a loss? It seems like it will just follow me around forever.

 

 

 

A Tree With No Roots

A tree with no roots is how I would best describe myself right now. If you were to pass me in the street, or to see me at work, or on Instagram you would get the impression that everything is pretty normal. It looks pretty normal. That’s the weird thing that when someone dies for the rest of us life still goes on, even if we don’t really feel like it doing so. And with a toddler in your life this is more true than ever. But I am only just hanging on. One tiny blow of the wind and my tree comes crashing down with leaves going everywhere.

I’m not sure how much of my fragility is down to grief, to illness, to the medications I’m taking or just to life in general – I suspect it is a mixture of all these factors. I think things are slowly getting better though. If I assess how I was a month ago to now then I have made progress, albeit I get so frustrated by how “not me” I feel right now. It doesn’t help that every time I look in the mirror I see a new face that I don’t like looking back at me. The steroids have unfortunately caused my face to go moon-shaped – or in other words I look like a chipmunk who has been storing nuts in my cheeks for winter. I have also thought to myself more than once I look like I’ve had some really bad fillers done to my face! The good news is that my skin is clear and I think the puffiness actually reduces the appearance of my wrinkles. Every cloud has a silver lining I guess!

Hubby and I returned Wednesday from a short break to Vienna which was without toddler N – the first time we have both left him for a trip together! I have left him several times, for work and obviously when I was in Australia when my Mum passed away, but daddy has always been there for some form of continuity. This time we both left him simultaneously for three nights. He was perfectly fine staying at the Grandparents’ House and enjoying daily play-time visits from his 3-year-old cousin. We received one particularly touching video while we were gone of the cousin feeding N slices of strawberries with a spoon which was incredibly cute, even more so with N clapping with appreciation. I’m sure they are both going to be so embarrassed by this video when they are teenagers, but really it is so adorable.

When we arrived back N heard us coming to the front door and peeked out from behind the curtains with such unbridled joy it was lovely. Toddlers have beautiful souls. It makes you wonder when we all lose this innocence.

The break itself was good and important. We did a bit of everything while we were there; some sightseeing, walking around, eating loads of amazing cake, shopping and just generally hanging out. The past few months have been intense and it is so easy to forget that we are indeed a couple and so it was a chance to reconnect. And yes, we actually had sex. That certainly had not happened since my Mum died but it was time and I’m glad for it on every level. We even had sex again since coming home again (in the middle of the night while I was sleeping, but it still counts!) which is some kind of new record for us.

We had actually booked the trip to Vienna especially to see singer Jason Mraz in concert as I have been a big fan for 10+ years and we even danced to his music at our wedding. One of the (many) drawbacks of living in a small island country is that such concerts just are not an option. We get a lot of the famous DJs during the summer playing huge beach parties, but the days when the party starts at 2am are long gone for me! Haha!

Anyway, Jason Mraz has a really earthy, zen quality to him so his concerts a almost a spiritual experience for me. One of my favourite songs of his is called “93 Million Miles” and it has some intense lyrics which I have always really appreciated, but which really touched me extra deeply this time.

…sometimes it may seem dark,
but the absence of the light is a necessary part
Just know, you’re never alone, you can always come back home…

It triggered all these emotions in me about where is home for me now?  I’ve lived almost more than half of  my life outside Australia now and the “home” I  did have there is gone now with my Mum’s passing.  So for the first time in my life I realised I can’t go home.  Or maybe I should redefine what I think of as home.  It was a deep thought which still troubles me.

Jason also paused during this song and encouraged everyone in the audience to think about someone who has supported them, and given them good energy, including those no longer with us. At this point it is fair to say I lost my sh1t and promptly sobbed for the rest of the song and the next one too (the one we danced to at our wedding). But it was good in a way because I felt better afterwards.

Side note: on our return to our hotel after the concert we pulled up in our Uber to a wall of paparazzi who were VERY disappointed by our arrival.  Curious as to who they were actually waiting for (the hotel staff wouldn’t tell us) we hovered about until the mystery was revealed as being Elle MacPherson who was there for the Vienna Opera Ball as the guest of honour.  As a fellow Australian Elle has been a huge celebrity for as long as I can remember and in the flesh I can honestly tell you she is a goddess.  She’s 54 and looked freaking amazing.  And as my husband so observantly said, “She’s really tall.” She was also incredibly polite thanking everyone and smiling for photos endlessly. Full respect to her for being such a decent person.

Since coming home N has been a bit of a handful though which has not helped my tree-swaying-in-the-breeze situation. He’s always very well looked after at the grandparents’ house but they do mess up his schedule very badly and we pay the price for it on our return. For the past three nights N has absolutely resolutely refused to go to bed as normal. He is entirely happy and cheery running around the place but the second you try and put him in bed he howls the place down, sobbing miserably. And for a baby that really doesn’t cry much it is especially hard to deal with. He’s been finally crashing out anywhere between 10.30pm and midnight which is not cool for anyone!

I do suspect he has a bit of an issue with teeth at the moment too as his canines are either on their way down or doing some shifting. However, the situation was certainly not helped when he paid a visit to the grandparents’ house for a few hours in the afternoon on Friday so I could go have a stupid abdominal ultrasound (as per the orders of my specialist who is checking for all kinds of cancer in me but kidneys, gall bladder, liver etc are all fine) ,and the lady who looks after N did not give him an afternoon nap at all “because he wasn’t tired”. Errr… hello! He’s 19 months old! That’s way too young to not be needing a nap! So what happened instead? He fell asleep in the car on the way home, slept for an hour once we got home and put him in bed and then woke up ready to party the evening away again from 7pm. Grrrr! Hubby was not happy and made it very clear to his parents who then started giving us unsolicited advice on how to get N to sleep, all of which was completely useless when all the kid needed was an afternoon nap so this did not help my frustration levels!

Having had enough of all of this, today I woke him up nice and early in the morning (regardless of his late bedtime the night before) and we ran a daytime schedule as we would on a regular day. As it is Saturday today, daddy was with us and we had a lovely time at the park and a DIY shop in the morning before nap time around lunchtime. I woke him up after 1.5 hours (his allowable nap duration) against his will and then he had a delicious pasta lunch, followed by a visit to a Dinosaurs of the Ocean exhibition (which confused him hugely with the dark lighting and strange noises), and a visit to a special coffee shop for kiddies which had a nice play area and other children to interact with. We came home just before dinner and bathtime etc, and you know what happened tonight? He was happy to go to bed, where he is currently looking incredibly peaceful as he rests. So I am feeling deeply satisfied about all of that.

What about N generally? When he’s not having an all night party, he’s seemingly learning new things before my very eyes. Everything I do he copies and it’s so cute, but also keeps me on my toes as I don’t want to teach him the wrong things (aka swearing). One of the funniest things he does is that he copies me doing the laundry. So he takes clothes (dirty or otherwise) and puts them in the washing machine, closes the door and gets the detergent out while he pretends to pour it in. Then, because he is terribly annoying switching off the machine while it is in the middle of a wash (child lock does not lock the ON/OFF button) I always tape a small plastic container over the ON/OFF button. He’s so observant that he now goes to the kitchen drawer where the tape is, gets it out and starts taping up the washing machine! Oh how I laughed the first time he did this!!

I have also been trying to teach him for months how to blow bubbles in the bath and he has finally mastered it! He now spends about a third of the time with his face in the water making bubbles and it is the cutest thing ever. Toddlers are the best!

His language skills are coming along slowly now, although I think he is a bit behind some of his peers. He jabbers endlessly in his own language which is fully adorable and then occasionally he says a word that makes sense – and in context – which is wonderful. Weirdly, any time a phone rings he says “Papa” which I guess says a lot about his association with phones and his dad. The other day a big bus passed by the car as we were driving and he very clearly said “bus” so I think we are slowly getting there. When reading books he likes to point to certain animals such as the tiger, monkey and lion (also he points to a picture of a Queen and given that I always describe the Queen as Beyonce perhaps I should stop doing that – hahah). He certainly understands everything I say so he is not a nonce and the words will come with more time.

He is great with eating with a fork and a spoon these days and tonight at dinner he was eating entirely independently, forking food into both his and my mouth.N can do the odd scribble with crayon or chalk these days but no drawing on walls (yet). He is getting interested in puzzles now and I bought him a great toy when I was in Vienna that is all these little wooden pegs you have to put in holes. He really likes putting things away in their rightful places (like mummy) so it’s right up his street!

Today went smoothly enough that I even did some baking! HOLLA! I had some disgustingly over-ripe bananas that made me want to gag (I am not much of a banana fan generally) so I turned them into banana bread. I used this recipe which is for small people and big people and it is GORGEOUS! Both hubby and N loved it so maybe my tree roots grew a bit deeper today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Germs, be gone!

Winter germs are seriously bad this year, folks!  There is a really bad strain of flu going about here that has terrified most of us with small children, especially because several people have died from it here including an 18-month-old boy.  This has really freaked out a lot of people because his deterioration was apparently very rapid from fairly regular flu symptoms to then contracting sepsis and somehow passing away.  The authorities have been light on the details – so we have no idea if he had underlying health issues or whether he was vaccinated – but it still has struck fear into all of our hearts.

We have unfortunately not been immune from The Germs, with N coming down with very high fever last Thursday.  It was pretty clear to me even then that it was not just a cold virus.  You can just tell when it’s your own child that they are Properly Sick. So poor N had a raging temperature for a few nights.  He was poorly during the day too, but definitely a lot worse with fever in the evening.  We treated him with paracetamol (Calpol) and Ibuprofen (Nurofen), although when his temperature is really high I find that Ibuprofen is much more effective at bringing it down.

The poor small chicken ended up in our bed three nights in a row as he was waking at night and needing comforting.  Actually he was waking at night and needing his fever brought down, but once that happened he then tended to find bonus energy and tore around our apartment for hours.  On one night he woke up at 1.30am and I didn’t get him back to bed until 5.30am.  I had not slept much before he woke up so that was a Very Long Night only improved by the fact that he slept in the next morning, and it was Saturday so I didn’t have to get up either.  It was quite sweet having his little cherub face right next to mine when I woke up and I could briefly see the appeal of co-sleeping.

On Saturday he had a visit to the paediatrician due to the fear of the flu, but she more-or-less said we needed to wait it out as there was no point in giving antibiotics just for flu.  Children need to have an infection, e.g. a chest infection, ear infection etc before there is any justification for antibiotics.

Thankfully by Sunday he had made an improvement enough that we took him out on an adventure to a camel farm which he absolutely loved!  There were many other animals there too and he seemed to take a particular shine to the goats.  I don’t know what to make of that as most of the time he was staring fascinated at the goats they were mating…

But such is the strength of these germs he has really not fully recovered since.  Last night, when having a cuddle on our bed with daddy he crashed out asleep about 2 hours before his usual bedtime and before having any dinner or a bath or anything.  We really didn’t know what to do with him – do you wake him or leave him sleep? We eventually decided just to put him in his own bed fully clothed which was partially successful as he slept there for a few hours, but was disturbed by a cough he acquired.  So then we had a very well-rested toddler who ran around until 11pm. We did get some food into him and gave him a bath so when he settled for the night he didn’t wake up again, but it was certainly an unusual night!

This morning he looked weary when I woke him, with perhaps a mild rash on his cheeks.  He certainly didn’t look 100% well.  Then, this afternoon he really looked exhausted at around 3.30pm. He only has one nap a day around lunchtime so to be tired at this time is strange.  But it was an easy decision to pop in bed for a bonus nap… I woke him at 5.00pm and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t he would have kept going for a while longer!  As it was he then didn’t want to go down for the night until 9.30pm, but that was ok.  I’m worried he is going to wake up again tonight but fingers crossed he makes it through and feels better tomorrow. Honestly, I have had enough of illness around here!

I had another blood test today which showed some good news though.  Some of the markers for inflammation are vastly reduced since starting the steroids two weeks ago which is really positive news. I’ve reduced my dose of prednisolone from 48mg/day to 36mg/day and this should mean slightly better sleep I hope.  I’ve not been able to fully assess that yet as it’s a bit early but also I developed a chest infection this week. Yay me! This is not a huge surprise and it’s probably the same virus that N had over the weekend but as I have supressed my immune system with my medications there is not a lot of fight in me against evil viruses.  So I am really a rattling pill shop these days, adding some antibiotics to the growing list of meds that I am taking.

In an effort to get myself back in order I went to yoga last Friday.  It was a beginners class and I fully sucked at it, but I went! I then had some acupuncture on Saturday which I do think helped with my energy levels. I also have a hair appointment on Friday, so each of these seemingly inconsequential actions are actually the small puzzle pieces that I need to put together to get myself back on track. I’m sure something will derail me again in a small way again soon, but to have an action plan is really important to me. Going forward is the only option.

 

 

 

My Mum died, and other news

I’ve been wondering how to title this post long before I even tried to write it, so I’ve gone with the direct option because frankly this is the sentence that sits square at the front of my brain right now: My Mum died.

My Mum died and my heart is broken.

She died at around 2.15am on Saturday 8th December with both my sister and I by her side. I had arrived late Wednesday night and came directly from the airport to the hospital as during my flight she had deteriorated significantly to the point where she was unconscious when I arrived.  I think she knew I was there though as her eyes flickered a few times when I spoke to her. I told her many times that I was there and that everything was ok now.  In the morning I got on her bed and gave her a cuddle too and she seemed to rest her forehead on mine as though she knew I was there.  By about lunchtime on Thursday she was completely unconscious and we didn’t see much response from her thereafter.

Both my sister and I stayed at the hospital in her room for the entire time.  The only time we left her room was when the nurses came to tend to her and freshen her up. By Friday we were both losing our minds but also we knew that it was more kind for her to go, than to stay in the state she was and we started willing her and giving her the “permission” to go.  She was such a feisty, strong woman though that she really, really hung on. Her heart was so strong that even the nurses couldn’t believe she was still alive on Friday.

When she finally left us early Saturday morning it was a blessed relief that she was finally at peace but it was truly awful.  Towards the end she looked so ghastly that I was afraid to look at her.  I realise that is terrible but it is quite traumatic to watch someone die in increments. When she died I was stroking her hair and holding her and my sister was on the other side holding her hand.  I guess as far as deaths go it’s the best you can hope for in such a circumstance.  She was surrounded by love.

I guess there is an argument that we all knew that she was gravely ill, but it doesn’t actually make it any easier to deal with. I’ve lost both of my parents now in vastly different circumstances – one as quite a shock and one not-so-much – and the trauma is no less in the latter scenario.

The days that follow are now some kind of blur.  Maybe I should have written something at the time but I didn’t feel able to. Almost immediately after my Mum passed away I developed laryngitis so here I was trying to organise a funeral with no voice. Apparently it is a legitimate reaction to grief to lose your voice.

People were very kind to me and my sister but it was a strange time.  I was living in my Mum’s house for a few days alone but without her (my son stayed back home with his dad and grandparents which was weird in itself). The funeral was the Wednesday following her passing, during which I recalled some happy and funny memories as part of the service. My voice had partially returned then but was not 100%. I remember feeling afterwards that a 45 minute service, lovely and heartfelt as it was, it just not enough to pay tribute to her life.  It almost seemed rude to have such a short amount of time dedicated to such a full life.  I still can’t get over this.

Also, I found the funeral to be a massive exercise in managing other people’s grief. While many people were certainly keen to support my sister and I, it really felt like we were doing the heavy lifting with looking after other people. My husband didn’t come over to Australia as we jointly agreed that it would be better to have him stay with baby N so that there was some consistency there. I had good friends supporting me so, while I missed him, I was ok.

Then at the funeral, I had two completely unexpected guests turn up – one was a girl I went to school with and practically have had nothing to do with since, and the second was an ex-boyfriend of mine from when I was 19. We have remained excellent friends over the years as we have some bond that is hard to put in words.  We definitely have a connection as he lost his mum to cancer at a young age as I did my dad, but we also have a special something between us beyond that.  It’s all above board, my husband knows about it and I think we both recognise we are not a good romantic match, but I do love him. Anyway, so he’s this tall, gorgeous, blonde surfer and he just strolls into the funeral and you know what?  I lost it. I had kept it together so nicely until then but I was so very touched that he came that I just hung onto him for dear life for about 5 minutes. It was kind of at the point where someone almost had to tell me to let the poor guy go.

Afterwards about 80 people came back to my Mum’s house for the wake. It was so bizarre.  Everyone is so convivial and yet you can’t hold down a conversation with anyone for longer than 1 minute because someone else comes to ask you something else. Also, because I think people realised we would (eventually) be selling Mum’s major items they started asking me if they could buy things.  At her wake, they started asking to buy things.  This still blows my mind.  So here I am in the middle of all the post-funeral feelings and someone is asking me how much for her sofa.  Seriously, WTF people?!

And then you know what happened the day after her funeral? I turned 40. Yep, it was my 40th birthday, which I was meant to be spending on a romantic trip in Milan with my husband. But instead I spent it at my Mum’s house with my sister and friends crying and drinking champagne.  Actually, somehow it turned out to be a great birthday full of love. I missed my Mum ENORMOUSLY but given the situation we did try and smile and celebrate in a low-key way.

The following Sunday I said goodbye to Mum’s house, and goodbye to the town I grew up in from the age of 3 and full of all the pain and emotion headed back to my boys.  And for the first time in my entire life, I got upgraded to business class on the plane.  I cried.

My return back was a blur.  Baby N was a bit strange with me for the first couple of days – he wouldn’t sleep the first night which was great with jet lag! But he soon got back into the swing of it and seems no worse off thankfully.  He’s at a beautiful age now – 18 months – and I adore him.

I don’t remember much what happened next.  There was Christmas and New Year, which was a blur. I didn’t feel much up for anything so we kept a pretty low profile, doing simple things as a threesome. I was exhausted too and couldn’t really seem to catch up with myself.

About two weeks ago I started to feel a tiredness in my muscles that was similar to how you feel after a really, good, tough workout.  Except I’d not worked out. This progressively got worse over several days until I found one night I couldn’t get out of bed as my muscles were so weak and I was in so much pain.  After I vomited a bit with the pain it completely freaked my husband out and so he sent me for some blood tests.  Long story short it seems I had a viral infection of sorts.  Nothing very exciting or unusual about that in winter… except that this viral infection seems to have triggered something far worse which is called Polymyositis. This is inflammation and weakness in your muscles and if not treated it can be very dangerous.

It has rendered me quite disabled in that I have no strength in my body to do basic things such as holding my hairdryer above my head to dry my hair, or pouring the water jug, or lifting /caring for baby N. I can’t walk very well or very fast and I’m in a lot of pain. At the moment they are trying to confirm the diagnosis – I’ve had a bunch of blood tests and an MRI so far, but they also need to do some kind of neurological test and a muscle biopsy so it’s not over yet. So far 2019 has sucked so very much!

Many people seem to think my immune system was compromised by my grief.  It all sounds believable but I’m just so unhappy right now.  Meanwhile my sister-in-law has just announced that she’s pregnant with her second, a girl.  You may recall that my husband and her husband are brothers and our relationships are not at all strong.  Throughout this she and her husband have been completely unsupportive and downright rude so I’m struggling with that too.  My parents-in-law, however, have been incredible and baby N has half-lived at their house as I’ve been incapable of caring for him alone.

Right now I’m trying to focus on getting better.  My treatment is high dose steroids – the same ones I took for the IVF but at much higher doses. On low dose they made my face fat and me kind of psycho so I am freaking out somewhat about what kind of nightmare I will become on the strong dose.  Either way I have to get better so there is no option.

Please someone tell me I’ve had enough drama and I can go back to a quiet, normal, boring life again soon?!

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These are some special tulips my Mum grew and tried to live long enough to enjoy (which she did)

 

How much is too much?

I’m in the middle of no-man’s land at the moment as I wait for my next cycle and likely transfer date in November. It’s actually nice as I’m mainly medication-free (thyroid meds excepted) and I almost feel like my usual self at the moment. 

The pregnant girl at my work is being occasionally irritating – I nearly cried at my desk on Friday when she came back from a doctor’s appointment and was joyfully telling everyone she could kind of see a hand on her baby scan – but I really feel that’s my sensitivity rather than any insensitivity on her part. 

However, this and the recent family christening drama have made me wonder how much should I have to apologise for my own grief?

I understand that we are all in our own bubbles and narcissistic to varying degrees. So while I’m walking around thinking everyone is staring and pointing at me as “the childless one” maybe they’re not. Or maybe it’s a fleeting thought before they go back to thinking about what’s for dinner. 

There is a grounding for these thoughts in that there is some unresolved issues currently with my hubby’s family and I’m not really sure how much I should unload on them. I think I’ve explained before here, that his parents are very nice, kind and generous people but they have an almost total lack of empathy. So even if I did emotionally unload I won’t get the response that I want from them, which is kindness and understanding. 

I realise that in a normal situation most people would just be honest and let them understand the pain that we are feeling. But my husband is VERY private and I don’t think he would want me to do that. At the same time, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that we’ve been married for 3.5 years, together for 7.5 years and I’m fast approaching my 38th birthday. With no baby in sight it doesn’t take much to deduce that maybe we have a sensitivity to this topic. 

So am I being overly unrealistic about how other people should behave, or should those who are close to me be more sensitive? Should I be apologising more freely for my own grief? How much information is too much to share? 

All advice welcome!

Don’t test the universe

It’s so easy to get caught up in the emotional weight of failed IVF, failed pregnancy, miscarriage and loss.  To say I’ve been swept up in a whole sea of negativity in the past couple of months is not even covering it.  I’ve been purposely staying a long distance away from blog land because I felt like I didn’t have much to contribute.  I also felt like things couldn’t get worse than they were.

I was wrong.

They got worse.

Last week my cat went missing and my heart is broken. Even if you don’t like cats, all you need to know is that my cat was very special to me. She and her brother were rescued together by my husband and I from a full-scale-crazy-cat-lady when we first moved to his country five years ago. Having a cat was part of the deal.  We chose one each, although my cat chose herself when she strolled confidently out of the pen and meowed at me.  It was love at first sight!

Living in a country that is not your own, especially one that is vastly different to your own in culture is hard and I have found it particularly hard for various reasons. But at the end of the day I’ve always known I could come home to my cat and everything would be okay. She has a funny personality – a bit sensitive, prone to panicking by strange noises and happenings – but she was entirely devoted to me, staying by my side always. If I get up from the sofa, she gets up from the sofa. If I go to lie on the bed, she comes with me.  When I have my shower she sits on the closed toilet seat lid and keeps me company.  She has/had a way of purring when she sleeps that makes vibrations that I find soothing. On those days when absolutely nothing was good in the whole universe, she was the one thing that made me feel just enough better to keep going.

I even joked (although maybe I was a bit serious) that if I had to choose between my husband and my cats I’d choose the cats.

So since she’s been missing I’ve been super traumatised. I won’t go into all the various details, but it seems she might have got a fright while sitting on the window ledge of our first floor apartment and fallen off.  I have searched everywhere, spoken to the neighbours, put signs up, added her details to Facebook pages for lost animals.  Nothing. I walk the streets at least twice a day still looking for her and she went missing last Thursday. Over Thursday and Friday I must have spent about 15 hours looking for her in total.

I literally sobbed non-stop Thursday night and all day Friday, managing to compose myself on Saturday for a wedding and then a Christening on Sunday (I lost it a bit at that, but everyone seemed to think I was very emotional about the baby – ha!). Somehow the past couple of days I’ve reached a plateau of peace. Cats are cats.  Bad things happen to us all (cats included, but not specific to them) and I have to find a way to move on.

But the strangest thing that’s happened, and which is the only mildly positive or at least not entirely negative thing is that it’s given me perspective. Suddenly the IVF stuff has taken a back seat in my brain.  I feel like I couldn’t care less about the next round of IVF.  Here I am trying to make a new baby and yet my current baby is missing.

So while I will still give absolutely anything to have my gorgeous cat back – I even made a wish on the New Moon last night that she would come back and I’ve never done that before – it has helped me develop a tiny bit of perspective, if only fleeting.

Also, don’t test the universe.  Just when you think you can’t feel any more pain something worse comes along.

As for the IVF stuff… well I went to my doctor for a check-up post-D&C a couple of weeks ago and he was surprisingly open to more investigative tests along the lines of auto-immune related.  I had armed myself for a bit of a fight before my appointment and then he was quite open and keen to do these tests too which shocked me.  Today I went off to see a rheumatologist who has in turn set up a series of investigative blood tests for me.  I have Raynaud’s Syndrome and that can be an indication of an underlying auto-immune problem so we are trying to determine if we need further supportive meds for the next IVF round.

It’s good to have something else to test, even if it all comes back negative. This doctor was also really nice, comforting and very encouraging. He made me feel the most normal I have with any medical professional in a long time.

Our plan is now to start the next IVF round at my next period.  The general programme is one month of the pill, then the down-reg drugs, followed by stims.  I estimate the eggs will get taken out sometime in early September, which will mean a late October, early November transfer.  In the meantime, I’m heading off on a holiday back to my mother country next week (even though it’s winter there – ugh) followed by a little holiday in a jungle on the way back.

Now if I could just get my cat to come home I will be happy.

Cellulite and broken dreams

It’s been five weeks now.  Feels like forever and yesterday all at once.  For a while all everyone wanted to do was to ask me how I am, and I constantly struggled to answer them.  Now they’ve stopped asking, which is a kindness in a way.

This loss has affected me differently from the first one, deeper, driving right to my core and draining me of energy and positivity. It was about 10 days of so after the D&C that I really started to fall apart.  It got so bad that my boss sent me to a psychologist, who diagnosed me with depression and suggested medicating me.

No.  No more medication.

But the psychologist did at least validate my feelings. I wondered if I was being overly dramatic, but no, she listened – not just to the current news, but to my whole story.  We all have complicated stories, but the fact that she actually seemed a bit blown away by mine was nice in a really odd way.

After that I gave myself a good talking to and started to make some positive changes in life. My theory is that if I do things that are meant to make me feel better, maybe eventually it will work.

So I started my yoga practice and returned to some regular running.  I have been eating unbelievably well – dieting to lose the IVF/pregnancy softness that is inevitable – and taking a bunch of super-expensive vitamins that will apparently make my egg quality spectacular.  Plus, I went back to my lady who gives me my cellulite-clearing treatments. Maybe it’s just me, but pregnancy (even if it is not a full pregnancy) gives me cellulite on my thighs. I won’t lie, I like my legs and they usually look pretty spectacular.  My husband has always said my butt and my legs are fantastic (well my boobs are quite small, so every cloud etc) and so when they all started to go bad it put my self-confidence at a maximum low.  The cellulite-busting treatment helps me to get some confidence back, and it ACTUALLY works.  It’s not some BS cream.  It’s heavy duty massage that hurts like hell but does break up the cellulite and clears it out.

I was doing okay for a while there and starting to gain confidence and positivity.  And then I got the karyotype (genetic) tests back. The doctor had always told me the testing was mainly pointless because the missed miscarriage was most likely caused by a genetic defect.  And after having had two of those in a row I figured our embryos were just genetically bad.  A group of rotten apples if you like.

But then the test came back and there was no genetic issue with my baby.  None.  SO WHAT THE HELL IS CAUSING THE MISSED MISCARRIAGES?  I have really no idea, and my doctor was totally useless saying just that the “treatment” will continue.  No extra testing, no hypothesising.  Just try again.  Kiss goodbye to 10k and whatever small piece of normal life you have and try again.

Well stuff that.  I have started doing my own research (hellooooo my old friend Google) and there are so many tests we can do!  All sorts of things for auto-immune issues that could, for example mean that my body is not feeding the placenta (or what would have become the placenta) and thus a perfectly normal embryo could fail.  I also have something called Raynaud’s syndrome which can sometimes be a sign of an underlying autoimmune problem.  My doctor knows this and yet he still doesn’t test for autoimmune. He tests for nothing. Recommends nothing.

So I’m going to go to a haematologist – without mentioning this to my doctor – and I will test myself.  If anything important shows up I will of course mention this to my doctor, but this is what it’s come to.  To say my doctor is not my favourite person is an understatement.  His one-size-fits-all approach must be a great cash cow, but for sure it doesn’t work for everyone.

But do you know what was the worst bit about the karyotype testing? I found out the gender of our baby.  It was a girl.

This broke me.  Completely.

I don’t know why it should matter so much and would I have been more or less sad if I had learned it was a boy? I don’t know. But knowing the baby had a gender was a huge reality-check.  I lost a baby.  Another one.  While people all around me have babies. It hurts more than I thought would be imaginable.

So that’s why I haven’t been writing on here recently.  I really am just focusing on finding a way of getting up every day and carrying on. I can’t even bear to read the other blogs and I’m sorry to all of you kind and wonderful ladies out there who I normally keep up with.

It’s just that every time I tune in here I see someone else’s baby scan and I see the little legs of a baby forming and it breaks my heart.  If my first pregnancy had worked I would be finishing up the last days at work now and giving birth in a few weeks.  If my second pregnancy had worked I would now be parading around the beach with a beautiful baby bump.

But there are no babies for me. Just cellulite and broken dreams. Some part of me is still fighting, still wants to go on or else I would have totally thrown in the towel by now.  My husband is spectacular in all of this – he’s been so patient with all of my sadness and moods and has barely made me see his family at all (thank goodness).  Someone give him a medal!

I look back a year ago when I was just starting all of this.  I was so full of optimism and expectation that this would just work.  It was never really an option that it would fail. Somehow I have to find that optimism once again.  I’m trying.  I really am.