Parenting

#Blogtober2019 – Day 15: Things we have lost

Today is the final day of Pregnancy and Baby Loss Week. It culminates in the Wave of Light. At 7pm local time, people all around the world light a candle to remember those souls who we never got to meet or hold; the ones we carry in our hearts.

The ones we have lost.

Before Laurence there was a frozen embryo transfer that resulted in twins. We nicknamed them Olaf and Elsa, because they were Frozen. They existed for such a painfully short period of time, we barely knew they were there before we were losing them.

And with them we lost a whole way of life. Birthdays we would never celebrate, friends they would never meet, toys they would never play with.

Two years later we transferred Bo and Luke. Bo because Laurie but Luke remains just Luke. I’ll never know if his little heart ever beat, I like to think it did, even if it was only for a short while. By the time we had a scan little Luke had stopped developing, while his brother grew big and strong.

But I’ll always wonder what could have been.

Perhaps I’d have a pair of three year olds now. Or I’d have two tearaway toddlers to wrangle into bed at night rather than one.

I want Laurie to know about his siblings who aren’t here. Although they were lost, we haven’t lost them.

Olaf and Elsa were the ones who gave me the opportunity to be a mum, who helped us work out why our IVF cycles were failing. If it wasn’t for them, Laurie wouldn’t be here.

And little Luke was Laurie’s special companion, a little guardian angel in the womb.

So while we never held them in our arms, we hold them in our hearts every day.

I’ll end this post with a little letter I wrote to Laurie four months before he was conceived, not knowing if I’d ever be lucky enough to have a firstborn.

A letter to my firstborn

To my Darling Someday Firstborn,

Although you will always be my Firstborn, you will never be my First.

You might be the first baby whose heartbeat I will hear throbbing away below my own. The first baby I will ever feel kicking inside me. The first baby I will birth and hold and marvel at the fact that your father and I (and a team of highly skilled professionals) created your wonderful, amazing, tiny body.
But you are not my First.
Yours was not the first pregnancy test I ever took (not by a long way, I’m afraid). Yours wasn’t even the first one to give me a positive result.
And that’s why you’re not my First.
You see, not all pregnancies have a happy ending, and unfortunately my First, like so many people around the world, did not.
My Firstborn, growing a baby is a little like burning a candle. Candles come in all shapes and sizes; you watch them, counting down the time until it’s going to be over and you can move on to the next stage. But that little flame on the candle is as delicate and fragile as a tiny new life.
Sometimes candles don’t stay alight for long.

We’re plunged into darkness.

And that’s why we have to remember what that light was like when it was still here.
So that is why, my precious Someday Child, on October the 15th thousands of people around the world light a candle at 7pm. It creates a wave of light around the world as people light candles and remember.
And that is why I light a candle at 7pm on October the 15th.

And I remember.

One day, my Someday Child, we will light that candle and I will tell you about the ones who came before you.
And we will remember together.
But until that day comes and you’re here with me, sharing all those firsts right alongside of me, I’ll wait and I’ll remember and I’ll share my story of my First with those who’ll listen.
And hopefully those who are lighting a candle on October the 15th and remembering too will know they’re not alone.
All my love,

From your Someday Mother.


This post is my 15th in a series of Blogtober 2019 posts.

Have you taken part in this year’s Wave of Light? Why not share who you’re remembering?

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IVF

#Blogtober2019 – Day 14: Earworms

Have you ever been stalked by a song?

I know, that sounds crazy, but bear with me here.

Back in 2017 we were in limbo. It was around March or early April and we were several weeks out from our fresh round of IVF which had ended in egg collection on the 13th of February. As it was a freeze all cycle, we had to wait until we were able to defrost and transfer our embryos.

It is a bit of a funny place to be. All of your momentum has been building up to collection and transfer, and when transfer isn’t able to go ahead, it kind of takes all the wind out of your sails. You can’t really relax because you’re thinking ahead to when treatment will start again but at the same time, you can’t really focus fully on it, because it’s yet to start.

Like I said, we were in limbo. And we were looking for some sign that this was going to be our time.

While we were in limbo, we were driving to work, listening to the radio, and we rounded a corner to find a beautiful bright rainbow. At the exact second that I pointed it out to the spousal unit, Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now began to play on the radio.

That, I thought, is a sign.

Logically, I’m sure that because I’d heard the song and decided it was a sign, I was 100% more aware of it and therefore picked up on it in places I wouldn’t normally have noticed it. But it did seem like the song followed us around.

On the way to FET appointments, I’d plug into my phone to listen to some music, and it would be the first track to come on. I put it on my Thinking Positive playlist on Spotify while I showered and it would crop up in the rotation. We’d listen to the radio first thing in the morning while I took my meds, and there it was again.

It was stalking us.

And it was nice. Reassuring. Like something was reaching out across the ether, giving our shoulders a little squeeze, and telling us it was all going to be okay. That nothing was going to stop us this time.

The day of our transfer was nerve-wracking, as all embryo transfers are.

First you have to wait for the call to find out if your embryos have survived the thaw. They’re such delicate little creatures (and even though the procedure for freezing and thawing has improved over the past 25 years, there’s always still that risk). I was terrified that we were going to blow through all nine embryos and have nothing to show for it.

Then you have to drink enough fluid to have a ‘comfortably full’ bladder. That’s an oxymoron if ever I’ve heard one. And then you have the wait to get called through, which feels longer than your bladder can possibly last.

You’ve got the sexy hospital gown and paper booties to don, along with your hair net. All the consent forms to sign. And then the procedure which is likened to a smear test, and I guess it would be, if the smear test involved feeding a catheter into your uterus with your prospective offspring onboard, whilst someone presses a scan probe into your uncomfortably full bladder, and you try not to pee on the doctor doing the procedure.

It’s such a magical moment.

In the hospital waiting room, I knew we had all this to come. We sat there, not talking, with several other couples, who were also not talking (some day I’ll blog about all the not talking that goes on in IVF waiting rooms).

There was a TV on the wall with some radio station playing but it was mostly white noise in the background. Until a familiar opening began to play.

And we can build this thing together
Stand this stormy weather
Nothing’s gonna stop us now…

And with that we were called through.

And we got to see Laurie for the very first time.

Transfer Selfie

This post is part of a series for the Blogtober 2019 blogging challenge. You can see my full list of prompts below:

Prompt LIst (1)

Are there songs that seem to crop up at significant moments in your life? Any songs that carry a particularly special meaning for you?

Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 13: All dressed up

Anyone who has met me is probably aware that fashion is not one of my strong points.

Given half the chance, I live in jeans and a top. If it’s cold, I’ll throw a hoodie over the top; if it’s warm, the top will be short-sleeved. Actually, given half the chance, I’ll be wearing my jammies, but if I have to put actual clothes on, then they’ll be my default ‘uniform’.

And yet, there’s something about having a small person of my very own to dress up, that make me more than just interested in clothes for practical purposes. Suddenly I find myself considering how well things go together.

I’ve become the mother who matches my son’s socks to his top.

I don’t even know how it happened.

Well, maybe I do.

Before Laurie was born, we ordered some bundles of clothes off of eBay. We were also lucky enough to be given a couple of bags of hand-me-downs from friends. There were some outfit sets amongst these clothes, but there were lots of individual items which I had to piece together into outfits for him.

I remember being immensely proud of the day when amongst his clothes I discovered a dark blue long-sleeved top with a dog pattern on it. He’d also got a pair of dungarees with a dog on them. And although the two different dogs didn’t match, they were similar enough that an outfit was born.

dav

He must’ve worn that outfit at least once a week until the dungarees wouldn’t stay done up and the top’s sleeves were halfway up his arms! I was so proud of it.

The photo doesn’t really do it justice. The little square on the dungarees has a dog on it and you can just about make out the not-quite-the-same-but-quite-similar dogs on the top. I even matched the dribble bib!

There’s something kind of fun in putting together little combinations of top, bottoms, jumper and anything else, and figuring out a way to tie them all together. Generally I either pick out one colour and try to find another item of clothing with the same/complementary colour, or I find a motif which is repeated in another item of clothing.

I’m sure that I do miss the mark occasionally, but as far as children go, Laurie’s an easy little boy to dress. I can pretty much guarantee that trousers and a nice jumper will make him look fairly smart (so long as we keep him away from anything sticky).

And I do fall back on the shop bought outfits when I’m feeling lazy. One that crops up in a few photos at the moment is his ‘moosebum’ outfit. This was in a bundle that one of his little friends had outgrown and passed on to us. I just love the moose on the bum! The fact that the Noodle’s Naini knitted him a hoodie that matches it perfectly is just an added bonus.

Laurie heading into Wean's World

Laurie’s already getting more insistent about picking his own clothes, so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I have to hand over the reins to him for selecting his outfits. He’s already got pretty good taste when it comes to clothes and footwear though, so he’ll probably do a way better job than me at it!

This blog post is part of a series for the Blogtober 2019 challenge. You can see my prompt list below:

Prompt LIst (1)

Are you able to coordinate the perfect outfit? Or do just just grab whatever’s clean and hope for the best?

Activities · Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 12: Today I made…

Today I made my son giggle when I got into the cot like he told me to (he then lay on his father’s side of the bed, so I think he was playing at being Daddy while I got to be Laurie).

Today I made my son so happy when I put on his welly boots and took him into the garden for a stomp in the wood chippings.

Today I made my son run up and down the living room which was all fun and games until he tripped over the rug and bumped his nose on the floor.

Today I made my son cry playing the aforementioned game.

Today I made my son laugh hysterically by pulling my arm up inside my dressing gown and then grabbing his hand when he reached into my empty sleeve.

Today I made my son come in from stomping around the garden (with his wellies on the wrong feet because he did it himself) with the promise of some Minion crispies.

Today I made my son upset when I wouldn’t let him help load the washing machine (that I’d already loaded with laundry).

Today I made my son excited when I invited him to press the start button on the washing machine because he loves to do laundry.

Today I made one arm, two eye patches and two ears for the little knitted panda that I’m making Laurie after he fell in love with one from the same pattern in a charity shop a few weeks ago and I still feel guilty for not getting it for him.

Today I made a bat with my son:

Things We Make

Excuse the potato quality photo. The lighting wasn’t great in the room and I had a toddler trying to share the camera with me.

Laurie and his dad painted the toilet roll tube earlier in the week. After a (very) long nap this afternoon, I cut out the wings, ears and a couple of different mouth shapes then gave Laurie a selection of googly eyes to choose from. He did the pasting and I helped him stick them on (apart from the ears which I did as he was losing interest by that point).

He now lives on top of the bookcase and is officially the first of our handmade Halloween decorations this year.

This blog post is part of a series in the Blogtober 2019 blogging challenge. You can see my full list of prompts below:

Prompt LIst (1)

What have you been making recently? Are you crafty at all?

Activities · Health · IVF · Parenting · The Noodle · Trips Out

#Blogtober2019 – Day 11: Let’s Go Outside

In 2016 I set myself a challenge of ‘walking to Rivendell’. Basically someone calculated the mileage covered in The Lord of the Rings when Frodo and the gang walk from Hobbiton to Rivendell (458 miles, if you’re curious) and I set out to do the same in a series of walks through the year.

Every time I went on a Middle-earth walk, I tracked it, until halfway through December when I completed my challenge.

I’d planned to do the next leg of the journey (Rivendell to Moria, approximately 340 miles to the Doors of Moria) through the following year. But things didn’t quite work out that way.

In the January we started our third (and final) fresh round of IVF. We had our egg collection halfway through February, I recovered from that and was just starting to pick it up again, when we hit April and we started preparing for the frozen embryo transfer round that brought us Laurie.

The hormones involved in IVF treatment can do funny things to your body; you can feel headachey, emotional, your uterus and ovaries feel different. Medications also have to be taken at specific times, which can be a bit impractical if you’re planning a quick two mile walk after work; one of the meds I was on required me to lie down for 20-30 minutes after taking it, meaning that 6:30am or 6:30pm activities were completely off the cards.

So walking didn’t happen much from April onwards.

After the embryo transfer on the 25th of May, I felt like I was made of glass. I’ve done transfers where I’ve rested afterwards and I’ve done transfers when I’ve gone on as normal; the ones where I’ve rested were the ones where I had the most success, so with Laurie’s round, I rested.

And then from June onwards I pretty much threw up until the end of 2017 (and then into the first month and five days of 2018 as well). Once I was about six or seven months pregnant we were able to take the occasional shuffle ‘to the bump and back’ (a family landmark down the road from our house). But other than that, my efforts to walk from Rivendell to Moria went sadly abandoned. Just as well I wasn’t the one responsible for getting a small gold trinket into a fiery chasm!

Laurie taking a walk

But now Laurie is definitely more mobile and a good walk tires him out and we live somewhere really beautiful, that we try to go for at least a couple of walks a week. The fact that the evenings are drawing in now means we’ll be a little more limited on our walks, but in the next few years I’m hoping I’ll get back into my walking again.

And maybe this time I’ll have a little travelling companion to walk alongside of me.

This blog post is part of a series for Blogtober 2019. You can see the prompts I’m using below:

Prompt LIst (1)

Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? Have you ever taken part in a walking (or other outdoor) challenge?

Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 10: Phobias

I have a terrible phobia of spiders. I can’t help it.

Everything about them makes my skin crawl.

I have gotten better about being around them, particularly when they’re small, but the big hairy ones are too much for me.

On the one hand, I’m determined not to let my fear rub off on my son. On the other, I don’t want to have to do anything that involves getting too close to those eight-legged monsters.

Laurie on Open Top Bus 01

A few months back, around the time I went from working three day weeks to four day ones, the spousal unit was playing at church. It had been a busy week for us all, so Laurie and I stayed home that particular day.

All was going well until I put Laurie down in the bedroom for a nap. On the way out of the room I stooped to pick up some laundry (might as well get some housework done while he naps, I thought). I stepped out the bedroom door and glanced down, thinking I might have dropped something. And as my eyes scanned the floor I spotted the dogs water bowl had something in it.

A Giant Get Out Of Here Spider!

This thing was massive. Absolutely ginormous.

I don’t think my feet touched the ground. I levitated the foot’s distance into the living room, to safety on the other side of the stairgate.

And then the realisation hit me.

My son was now on the other side of the spider. In the bedroom. And I couldn’t get to him if he needed me.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so torn as a mother!

I was able to get close enough to take a photo (at arms length, leaning over the stairgate, keeping all limbs well out of reach of the eight-legged freak) in order to send it to the spousal unit to beg him to come home.

He suggested pouring more water into the bowl to make sure it was an ex-spider, therefore rendering us all safe from the behemoth. I expressed some concern that this would simply raise the water level in the bowl, allowing the creature to find its footing on the side and climb out. Also pouring water into the bowl required me to be a lot closer to it than I was prepared to get!

Time passed. I fretted that Laurie could wake up at any moment. Eventually I could take it no longer.

I got the kettle and wildly splashed water over the corridor that we call Tara’s Room, between the bedroom and living room. Some of the water went in the bowl. Most of it went on the floor.

I watched the spider.

It sloshed around a little bit in the ripples my water splashing made, but it didn’t try to move. And shining a torch on it and looking just a tad closer, it definitely looked a bit dead.

Of course, it was still huge and scary and I was petrified about Tara trying to drink it, or Laurie spotting it and wanting to pick it up. So I got a pasta bowl, thinking it would sit nicely on top of the dog bowl to cover up the bowl’s contents. I underestimated the size of the dog bowl though and instead it bobbed on top of the water, after bouncing right down. At least this ensured that if the spider hadn’t ceased to be already, it definitely had by then!

I felt like a bit of a fool for the rest of the day, though I was able to retrieve Laurence from the bedroom when he woke. And the spousal unit did agree with me that it was a very big spider (and not just agreeing in that you’re my wife so I HAVE to agree with you way).

Then again, if the spider had been alive, I think the spousal unit would definitely have had to come home to rescue our son! That thing was big enough to eat him!

This post is the tenth in the Blogtober 2019 series I am writing. You can see my prompts below:

Prompt LIst (1)

Do you have any phobias? How do you cope when you’re faced with them?

Parenting · The Noodle

#Blogtober2019 – Day 9: A Day in the Life

At the moment I’m working a four day week as I’m providing Maternity cover for a different role to the one I was doing until the summer.

I was lucky enough to have a three day week after my return from Maternity Leave, something that I never really imagined doing but I absolutely loved, mainly because of my Tuesdays. Tuesdays were the days when I had twelve whole hours just me and the Noodle.

I’ll admit, the first few absolutely terrified me!

Laurie March 2018

But when he was tiny it was actually pretty easy, and he tended to ease into the difficult phases (you’d have a couple of bad days, then a good one to lull you into the false impression that he’d gotten over whatever leap in development that had stopped him sleeping/got him climbing the walls/having the mother of all meltdowns any time you offered him a piece of cheese/etc.) so at least you were able to adjust as he did.

Our old Tuesdays are my model of what the perfect day with my son are, just the two of us. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy our current Fridays as a family, where we visit the town or explore the mainland, but for days when we’re just a pair, Tuesdays are the gold standard.

A typical Mummy-Son Day would probably look something like this:

5am-ish
Laurie wakes up. He’ll cuddle into me and babble a little bit. I’ll probably end up scrolling through my phone, eventually he’ll fall asleep. If I don’t have to get up for anything, by about 6am, I will too.

7am-ish
The spousal unit wakes up and starts getting himself ready quietly so as not to disturb Laurie and I. Inevitably, as soon as the spousal unit mentions he’s going to go as soon as possible to give me a lie in, Laurie will wake up and decide it’s time to get the day started. When he was a newborn, I’d sit in bed feeding him and watching ER. Now, we relocate to the living room.

8am-ish
Radio on, kettle on, graze plate out for Laurie. Breakfast for me. Usually halfway through a mouthful of squash from the night before I remember that I boiled the kettle half an hour ago and still haven’t made a mug of hot chocolate yet. Laurie eats the fruit from his graze plate, picks at some of the cereal, and gives a cheese twist to the labrador.

9am-ish
Time for housework. I’ll try to tackle either washing up, laundry of vacuuming. Laurie plays in the living room if I wash up (and visits me in the kitchen); he helps sort the laundry (though we have vastly different systems of sorting clothes); he has a complete meltdown if I do the vacuuming (unless we each take it in turns for a count of 10)!

9:30am
I can guarantee that by this point Laurie will be showing signs of being ready for a nap. He only ever has a morning nap when he’s with me. If he’s with his dad he’ll just charge on through. This is a nice time for me to go and have a lie down with him on the bed. He’ll fall deeply unconscious until the first time I try to move, then he’ll start to stir and set me in a panic.

10am
Head through to the living room. Contemplate doing something that I should be doing, like more housework or OU. Instead read a knitting magazine, or knit, or scroll through Facebook, or do one of several other things that I probably could put off until later, but don’t.

If I’m feeling really dedicated, I’ll switch what I do every twenty minutes or so. Twenty minutes of reading followed by twenty minutes of rearranging laundry on the airer. I like to check stuff off the To Do List.

11am-ish
Worry that I’ve not heard from Laurie for a while. Double check the baby monitor is plugged in. Hover at the door to the bedroom and debate whether I should go in to check on him. Start to open the door, panic when it creaks. Peer in anyway. Confirm I can see him breathing, relax for a little bit.

11:45am
Message the spousal unit that if Laurie doesn’t wake up soon, he’ll have a very late lunch.

Seconds after sending the above message
Laurie wakes up.

12pm
Get lunch on. Let Laurie ‘help’. Spent twenty minutes helping him empty the bin, fishing things out of the bin that shouldn’t be in there, forgetting to set timers or check the clock when I put food in and getting annoyed at Jeremy Vine on the radio.

Laurie eating pizza

Once it’s all ready we sit down to eat. Laurie eats all of his favourite thing from his plate and then tries to pinch the same thing off my plate. Depending on what it is, I can sometimes be convinced to share. Know he’s had enough of the meal when he decides to take his leftovers to the dog. Fine if I’m sitting with him when he does this, not so fine if I’m taking my plate out to the kitchen and he gets slightly cold mixed veg all over the floor!

If I’m feeling like a true domestic goddess, I might wash up at this point and do other housewifely things, like emptying the washing machine. It’s been known to happen.

2pm-ish
If the weather’s nice we go for a stroll on the estate where we live. If it’s bad this might be the time when I set up a arts and craft activity in the kitchen.

If it’s the latter, you can pretty much guarantee that within half an hour Laurie (and I) will be in the bathroom, him having been manhandled up the stairs trying to avoid contact with him as much as possible until I can get him in the shower and hosed down. Invariably, whenever the paint comes out, Laurie has to paint himself!

cropped-1

3pm-ish
Clean up Laurie’s work of art in the kitchen. Scrub paint off the floor, cupboard doors, oven, stairgate and all other surfaces in the kitchen. Touch something and notice it’s got a smudge of paint on it. Clean that off. Touch it again and notice another smudge. Do this three or four times before I realise the paint is coming from a blob on my thumb!

A short while later
Realise that Laurie is getting tired and it is far too late for an afternoon nap now, so try to keep him going for as long as possible with toys, games, silly songs and stories. If we didn’t take a walk earlier, you can bet we’re going on one now, whatever the weather!

5pm-ish
Sit down for a cuddle with him on the sofa and think about getting tea. An hour passes and I realise that suddenly bedtime is looming very close and I really need to get tea.

Head to the kitchen, rifle through the cupboards and put together something snacky for Laurie’s tea. He eats most of it and tries to feed me the rest. Depending on what it is, I might let him.

6:30pm
Begin the wind down for bed time. Try to encourage quiet games and toys. Laurie does not get the memo and runs around the living room like he’s on a total sugar high, everything is hilariously funny and Tara must be cuddled. Balloons are thrown, blocks are knocked over, we each have to have a book and he has to make sure I read mine properly.

He doesn’t show signs of tiring any time soon. I could drop where I stand!

Laurie pointing

7pm
Vitamins, teeth, nappy, jammies, story, into bed for cuddles and to sleep.

7:45pm
Head through to the living room and wonder what to do with myself. Feel at a bit of a loss because I’m all by myself and my little companion from the day is unconscious. Pull out some OU and reward myself with five minutes online at the end of every section.

The radio will be on and playing songs that all sound like Laurence is crying for me from the other room.

9:30pm
The spousal unit shows up, hopefully bringing some chocolate or a nice treat and we catch up with one another before deciding we’re both absolutely exhausted and head to bed.

As if Laurie knows his dad is back, before we’ve even left the living room, he’ll stir a little, even if he doesn’t fully wake up, and we end up all snuggled together in bed by 10:30pm.

I’m exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open and it doesn’t sound like a very impressive day when it’s all written out, it’s not a day where I’m making scientific discoveries, or saving a life, or changing the world, but for me, it’s the sort of day I dreamed of for almost a decade.

This blog post is the ninth is a series for Blogtober 2019. You can see my prompts below:

Prompt LIst (1)

What does your perfect day look like? How different is it from a normal day?