A solid C- effort

We are home from our trip. I am still processing it, as it was a mixed bag and involved a lot of sleep deprivation right at the end, so I’m jet lagged and tired.

Pea and I are uncomfortably concluding that we did not do a good job parenting Spud while away. Strange foods, new locations, restaurant meals, and the expectations and requirements of the others we traveled with lead to Spud’s needs being compromised too frequently. Too many meals in a row where he wasn’t fond of the new options, was distracted by the new sights and sounds, and where we were distracted by trying to keep the peace in a public space rather than focused on his nutrition. Too many days (in a row!!) where his nap was on the road, in a carrier or the car, and shortened by more than half as a result. Too few moments of calm, with him on our lap reading and drinking. Spud is chronically under hydrated, and drinks most reliably while listening to stories. Too few offers of liquid during long days of touring. No real replacement beyond water for when Spud started refusing the European milk.

Spud had fun on the trip. He loved the corner of Pickled Fish Country we spent some time in before continuing east. He liked meeting all of his distant relatives, seeing many church towers (“Tick tock! Ding dong!”), and running on cobblestones. He demanded long outings in his stroller (which he calls “dodoyne”, unclear why, similar to his “nanu” for lawnmower) (“red dodoyne!” “Outside! Red dodoyne!” Clambers into stroller and looks at us expectantly).

Spud also got sick. He (and I) had the runs from day three in Historic Seat of Spud’s Patriarchy. We did not switch to bottled water til day seven, which was probably a mistake, but hard to know what was (and still is) causing our digestive upset. Spud spiked a fever on Friday afternoon, while we were out visiting a second cousin’s house in a town an hour from our hotel. Not wanting to disrupt the day, and not realizing just how high his fever was, we held him, let him nap in the car seat, and kept him outside where it was cooler as he was fractious and sad at the dinner table. We only got home at 8 pm, when we were able to measure his fever, which had clearly worsened on the drive home. Scary high, floppy kid, hospital visit. Overnight with a litre of saline IV and pediatric observation, and he perked up a lot. A viral infection that has left him with a brutal cough – we took him to the clinic this morning to check up on it.

We left Monday with a much improved Spud, and realized on the plane we hadn’t accounted for a meal he’d need, a time zone confusion. We cobbled together a day of seventeen snacks, and continued to try to hydrate him better.

Some of this was not our fault. We can’t prevent viruses from existing in the world. Spud is a busy and distractible toddler who has just entered a fussier eating phase. Two of the three shitty naps were because of a running miscommunication between the myriad groups of people, where we had been told we’d be home by nap, and only got back to the hotel well past Spud’s bedtime. Had we known the actual days’ events before leaving, we would have sat at least one of them out.

But some of it is on us. We didn’t pay close enough attention to what Spud was (or wasn’t) drinking. We didn’t speak up to demand a different timeline once unreasonable timelines became clear. We thought we’d pay for stretching Spud’s resilience in disrupted nights or a fussy kid. We didn’t anticipate him getting sick, or so very sick.

I’m working from home today to help our nanny navigate the combo of sickness and jet-lag, while still trying to comfort Spud with some solid routines. He’s a bit whiny and a bit clingy, but he’s also cheerful and chatty and curious.

I’m relieved he’s generally ok, exhausted from the twinned sleep deprivation and stress of an overnight vigil and then trans-Atlantic travel day, and fighting my own jet lag and gastrointestinal discomfort.

The trip was a lot of fun, and I’m glad we went. I’ll post a happier touristy update if I get to it, but my reflections have been on parenting while away and that’s why I started there.

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Plane!

“Plane! Plane!” wails Spud, as he sobs into his lunch, taking sad woeful bites.

Me, walking in the door from a morning meeting, “What’s going on?”

Pea and our nanny: “We think he’s really excited about going on a plane and sad he’s not there now? We’re not sure, all of lunch has been this disaster.”

Spud: sobs 

Me: “Ah. I hadn’t been mentioning it to him because I was a bit worried this would happen…”

 

We leave today for our summer adventure! We are all packed up, and we are waiting for Spud to wake up from his nap, and then we will head off to the airport. It’s a red-eye flight, which I’m pretty sure seemed like a bad idea when we booked it but now seems like a REALLY bad idea. We will land at 2:30 am our current time, which will be 8:30 am there. Bad news, friends. We will see how it goes! Everyone can have as many naps as they need as long as I still get to take a boat tour one day.

overly ambitious

I solo parented this week, as Pea is off in Windy City for a work summit. I also weaned Spud, got my first postpartum period, returned to the clinic, got the car repaired, and shepherded Spud through a cognitive leap.

This week at work, I edited a student’s thesis chapter (colossally bad, and indefensible in its current state), navigated providing that feedback, finished my part of a paper’s revisions, set up to sample a brand new field site in early September, and started to really work on the paper that is due at the end of the month. A colleague offered me the opportunity to write a commentary on a new paper, which would be a short, quick publication and would showcase that I’m considered an expert in this field, due end of the month*. A preproposal for a cushy grant was selected for a full proposal – one of 27 selected out of 223 preproposals. The full proposal is due mid-September.

The weaning/menstruating hormone mix combined with Pea’s absence manifests as insomnia, and Spud has been waking up at 6 am with his “I am lonely or angry or discombobulated but not actually sad” cry. Today he woke up at 5 am. After half an hour of cuddles he capsized for another hour, in which I fitfully dozed.

I am very very tired.

We leave for a ten day vacation on Wednesday. I need it. I’m so excited for it. It is such bad timing, so I’m also feeling a touch panicky about it (and so I’m blogging instead of getting any of this work done, ha).

* I should say no to this commentary, but this is my very persistent colleague who really does not accept anyone saying no to them so it’ll be an annoying battle, and tenuritis makes me want to say yes because it’s yet another invited, free publication and those are golden.

And we are done

I nursed Spud this morning. He poked at my face. He pushed my chin this way and that. He giggled with his mouth full when I “ate” his finger. He got bored and hung off my nipple with his teeth for a while. I zoned out thinking about the upcoming day and then felt guilty I wasn’t paying attention. When he was done on the second side, he slid off my lap and tried to get a book that had fallen under our chair.

“That was the last time, Spud”, I said. “We won’t have milk again, ok?”

I have been counting down days with him since the weekend, but I do not think he has been understanding. Though he often surprises me.

“Book!” said Spud. “Milk! Papaya!” said Spud, and he rumbled off down the hallway to the kitchen.

It was anticlimactic, really. I was SO SAD the last time I nursed him at night, a month ago. He fell sweetly asleep, suckling dreamily, and I was bereft. Then I completely messed up the transfer into the travel cot at our cabin in the mountains and he woke up, and then proceeded to bounce around yelling and giggling and pointing at stuff for AN HOUR. It drove home to me that night-time nursing was often enough a problem that I could walk away from it without too much heartache.

At work, I decided the best way to ensure I stuck with this weaning plan was to eat some chocolate. Spud reacted badly to chocolate when I tested it a few weeks ago, so this way I know that if I nurse him tomorrow, I’ll be causing him discomfort in the long run. It was not hard to find some – I’ve been yearning for a Bounty bar for ages.

Spud has eaten cheese and some baked-in dairy for a few weeks now with no obvious signs of discomfort or digestive upset. I have been eating whatever I wanted (barring chocolate) for over a month, with no issues. Spud had an ounce of cow’s milk yesterday, and two today – we shall see, but Pea and I are optimistic. We may be able to move from almond milk to something with actual nutrition in it in the near future, which would greatly ease my guilt over weaning him for a hypothetical sibling’s sake.

I will keep an eye out for mastitis, and otherwise hope the process isn’t too uncomfortable. I doubt I’m making more than 2-3 ounces a day now, so it shouldn’t take too long to drop off.

And so, after nineteen months of nursing, seventeen and a half months of restricted diets, and eleven and a half months of pumping, I yield my role as food source. A bit reluctantly, with a touch of relief, no little trepidation, and a bitter-sweet mix of sorrow and glee.

oh right, this shit again

Aaaaaand we’re back! At the clinic! It took quite a bit of back and forth with the two clinics and a disconnect between needing a referral from the US clinic for the Canadian one to see me, but having appointments set up with them in the opposite order. Canadian clinic has decided they’ll see me illicitly once because their doctor is going on vacation for most of August, and otherwise we’d miss her. This was no small stress, and many emails and phone calls, but eventually everyone is happy, and I will talk to both clinics before we go on a vacation of our own.

Me: AAAAAAAAGH, this is bringing back how effing annoying fertility clinics are. It’s not even the fertility part! It’s the management!
Pea: Thank you for getting this all organized.
Me: grumble mumble glower They don’t even need you in the appointments this time because it’s a frozen embryo. Your work is already done!

I go in Wednesday for baseline blood draws. I will have weaned Spud that morning, soooo we’ll see. Frankly, I don’t think he’s getting much milk these days since he finishes and then demands a sippy of almond milk, but that doesn’t mean my hormones are back in line. I did go get my varicella vaccination, and had redone the MMR booster before Spud’s pregnancy, so I’m hopeful I will at least titer as immune for those now.

I am also 95% sure I ovulated two weekends ago*. If so, cycle day 1 should be imminent, and will definitely have happened before my call with the US clinic next week, which will allow for a better conversation about what’s needed. Given I usually have 82 day cycles, another one in August is.. unlikely… but the chance of a natural ovulation occurring might change how we approach the birth control at the start of the FET in early September. More bloodwork, I’m guessing, and possibly a preliminary ultrasound? We’ll see.

I’m somewhat stressed about the October timeline and the potential for a June baby, which seems ludicrously soon, but I’m also fatalistically sure that October is a pipe dream and that there will be delays upon delays, and likely failures upon failures. So we shall get going and see where we get to.

I am revisiting the pseudo-zen I had reached about fertility treatments after the second chemical, where I tried really hard to not really care or be invested in any of it. I still whisper to implanted embryos, welcoming them. I still follow all guidelines and regimens. I don’t expect anything to work. It helps.

 

* I’m not temping, so I’m not 100% sure, but I felt that sucker pop. After days and days of distinctly ovarian heaviness and cramps, and a veritable river of egg-white mucous. We did not try to catch this egg, because I’d gone for my varicella vaccination a week prior, and they told me to wait a month. Ah, the irony. The research is pretty clear that the vaccination poses no actual risks, but Pea wanted to be safe and I was grumpy about how much my ovary hurt, so we gave it a pass a few nights in a row and then it was a moot point.

Critical miscalculation

Me: I’m going to work more deeply more often. I’m going to run more. I’m going to eat better. I’m going to scroll less!

My will power: Yah, I’m gonna need you to pick, like, one of those. I’m not trained up to do all of that all at once.

Me: Huh, this isn’t going that well. <eats fried food while scrolling instead of working>

 

I am trying to train my brain to focus better, and for longer. It’s hard work. I’m also trying to rejig my sedentary lifestyle, which is also hard work. There is good research that shows we each have a finite capacity for will power (which can be increased, but which takes time and dedicated effort to do so). I’m finding I’m running low, fast.

Add to this that I seem to have trained myself to be completely incapable of falling asleep without some ongoing stimulus – my phone, or a book on my kindle – and I’m not best pleased with my current status. Last night I clicked the light off and didn’t keep reading, because Pea had come to bed at the same time as me. I then proceeded to have a massive anxiety episode where many terrible imaginary things happened. I did eventually fall asleep, but the craving to click on a screen was potent. I think I read and scroll so that I don’t actively worry, which is…. coping at best, and manic avoidance of anxiety issues at worst. Not to mention all the research showing screens == anxiety. I reckon that I’ve missed between 30-90 minutes of sleep each night for the past six months because I’m terrible at falling asleep once in bed, tired, and ready to sleep.

I am wondering if cold turkey on some things will be better than continuing to ratchet down my screen time, while ratcheting up my focus in other areas. If I wasn’t allowed to poke on my phone in the evenings, I might get bored enough to go for a run!

bedtime bothers

Spud is not happy about being weaned. Right now he nurses in the mornings once he wakes up (or once it is seven am, whichever comes later). He was perfectly happy dropping the bedtime nurse so long as he got a sippy of breast milk during the bedtime routine. He was also fine with a sippy of almond milk once the freezer stash ran out. So perhaps I should rephrase: Spud is not happy that we’ve taken away his evening drink. He didn’t seem all that worried about what form it came in.

We phased it out early last week, in hopes of having toothbrushing happen after any food for the day. Better for his teeth. We’re offering almond milk with dinner in place of the sippy after bath. All bedtimes from then have been terrible: a previously self-soothing child squalling fretfully in his crib, with multiple pop-ins from parents for yet another lullaby and cuddle.

I don’t think that he misses the nursing cuddles, as we’re still cuddling and reading and singing together for about the same amount of time.

I don’t think he is hungry, as he’s been eating excellent dinners the whole week.

I think he might be thirsty, as he is chronically under-hydrated, but if we give him a drink right before bed then it is a strain for his diaper to make it to morning (a second reason for the removal of the nighttime drink).

Yesterday I tried floating orange slices in his water bottle, and he drank the lot, so that was progress. He still wasn’t happy about bedtime though.

He seems very tired and interested in sleep, but not quite able to tip over the edge. He was previously pretty reliable for this, so I’m baffled. Maybe it’s just an adjustment period, but I’m sad that he’s sad.