IVF · Parenting · Pregnancy

“When do you think you’ll have another?”

There seems to be a belief amongst some people, that having a child cures infertility.

Newborn Laurie

While it’s true that there are a number of people who do go on to get pregnant after having had fertility treatment, they’re probably the exception, not the rule. Infertility is a huge umbrella and can mean that couples have problems with sperm, eggs, ovaries, tubes, hormones, genetics, and probably dozens of other complications that I’ve not considered here. Sometimes everything works and yet a baby still doesn’t happen; the helpfully termed ‘unexplained infertility’.

For some people having a baby seems to reset things; hormones start behaving as they should, tubes do things they’ve never done before, perhaps a change in lifestyle affects sperm production and a baby does happen naturally. It’s wonderful and I’ve celebrated alongside every single one of my IVF Crew friends who have experienced a surprise natural positive test.

But for so many of us, the hope of another child lies in a freezer in a lab, or in a bank loan for more treatment. Another child doesn’t mean a romantic night away with the spousal unit and a bottle of something bubbly; it means injections and pills and internal scans and backless hospital gowns accessorised with paper booties and a hair net.

And so the pressure isn’t taken off.

It’s heaped on in spades.

All those appointments? That’s time you could be spending with your existing child.

The hormones you pump your body full of? They make you moody, emotional, tired, and unwell, so you struggle to fully enjoy the child you already have.

The money you spend on treatment? That’s a holiday with your child. Day trips out. Fantastic new toys. Furniture. A down payment on a house. A new car.

And all of that work and effort.

It’s all a huge gamble. A roll of the dice or a flip of a coin. Heads, you win a baby. Tails, it’s another blank pregnancy test.

Like any form of gambling, you’re in it for the big prize, and it’s the big prize that drives you to take the chance, but there are never any guarantees.

Laurie March 2018

It’s most definitely not without pressure. The stakes are most definitely higher with another frozen embryo transfer than they were with Laurie’s round. Before we had Laurie, we’d only experienced loss; now we’ve experienced success, it’s just another added pressure; we’re more fully aware of what’s at stake than we ever were before.

So while on the outside, it may look like infertility isn’t an issue now we’ve had a baby. But it’s still very much the elephant in the room whenever the prospect of another child comes up in conversation. It’s not ‘cured’ by the delivery of a healthy baby; it’s a weight I’ll probably carry with me for the rest of my life.

But we’ll bear the pressure, because when you don’t know any different, that’s just what you do.

Laurie April 2019

If you know of someone who’s had fertility treatment to have a child, don’t assume that the years of heartache have magically been washed away. Those feelings are very much still there, alongside all the other complicated parenting emotions (mum guilt, I’m looking at you). Don’t dismiss how those parents are feeling by pointing out that ‘at least you’ve got a child’ or that ‘it could happen naturally now’ (especially if you don’t know the reason for their needing fertility treatment, it’s especially unlikely if the woman you’re speaking to has had her Fallopian tubes removed).

What can you do?

1. Don’t assume

Don’t assume that just because a family had a difficult time getting pregnant that they’ll not want another. Don’t assume that just because your cousin’s nephew’s aunt’s dog walker’s sister fell pregnant with a surprise baby just months after having an IVF one that any other family will experience this success. Don’t assume that because fertility treatment worked on the first go the next round will be a walk in the park.

If you don’t know for definite, just don’t assume.

2. Acknowledge their feelings

If the person you’re speaking to suggests that giving their child a younger brother or sister isn’t quite as easy as that, respect that and acknowledge it. This isn’t the time to launch into the story of the distant relative who got pregnant naturally after treatment. They’re telling you about some pretty hefty feelings and it can be easy to feel dismissed when someone brushes them aside with a comment like ‘at least you’ve experienced pregnancy now’.

It can be hard to know just what to say in these situations and that’s okay. If you don’t know what to say, tell them you can’t imagine how they feel; when you do that you’re acknowledging just how difficult these feelings are and letting the person know that it’s okay to feel that way.

3. Offer support

This can mean all sorts of things. You might just be a friendly ear or inbox when a person needs to vent. If they’re actually going through treatment then they’ll be juggling appointments with looking after their child, so you might be able help out there.

Just because you can’t help physically, you can help with the emotional side of things. Take it from me, it can make the world of difference.

If you had fertility treatment to get pregnant, how do you respond to these well-meaning comments and questions? What do you wish they knew?

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Parenting · The Noodle

18 months

Dear Laurie,

Today you are 18 months old.

It seems like such a huge number for you to be already. Surely it was only a few weeks ago that you were my tiny little squidge who fitted so comfortably in my arms.

Now you’re a long, gangly little fellow with legs for miles. You definitely don’t get those from me!

Your eyes are still incredibly blue and your hair is incredibly blonde. You’re a proper little curly top now, with the most adorable ringlet that coils up at the very centre of your neck. I like to uncurl it like a little piglet’s tail.

Laurie watching tractors leave

You’re not really one for staying in bed, unless it’s a work morning in which case we’re often able to slip out of the room and leave you sleeping just a little bit longer. The time you wake up seems to be inversely proportionate to the time we have to leave the house; if we need to be out the door by 7:30am, you can bet you’ll still be unconscious a full hour after the alarm has gone off. Of course, if we don’t need to go out until 10:30am, you’ll be awake and ready to play at 5am.

I don’t really mind though. You’re such a little charmer. All you need to do is flash that big smile and give me one of those open-mouthed kisses (all teeth and slobber) and you know we’ll be getting up to play.

Laurie eating ice cream

You’ve recently progressed to eating your meals sitting at the coffee table on your little chair (rather than the highchair). It’s been so exciting to watch you figure out using cutlery and now you go and get your chair when you think that food is about to be served. We’ve even started letting you sit there to eat cereal (with milk and everything!) which is a little nerve-wracking for the clean up operation afterwards but you’ve done very well with only a few small spillages.

Of course, there’s some times when we still use the highchair but I think its days might be numbered now, a definite sign that you’re growing up!

You constantly amaze us with the things you know and can do.

The other morning you were trying to get your Dad to play with your recorder and he casually said ‘go and get the pocket trumpet’, and wouldn’t you know? You toddled right off to the corner and brought the pocket trumpet over for him to play. If he doesn’t bring it home, you look for it and are so disappointed when it’s not in its place; last week he brought it home purely to avoid making you sad if it wasn’t there!

You talk on the phone now as well. We’re not entirely sure what you’re saying, except that there’s a lot of pointing at things and saying ‘air’ (which translates as ‘there’ from Noodle!Speak). One day you took the phone and started trying to put green beans into the receiver; another day your Grandma was on the phone and you decided to share your snack with her. You also have a little remote control which you’ve decided is your mobile, you walk around the room with it while one of us has the phone handset and heaven forbid we try and stop talking to you before you let us know the conversation is done!

Tara is one of your very favourite people. The pair of you kiss (All. The. Time.) regardless of whether I want you to have your face washed by the Labrador or not. Whenever she flops on the floor, you have to go and sit beside her, leaning back like’s she’s your very own canine cushion. She’s so tolerant of you.

She also lets you walk her on her lead. Whereas she’ll tug if one of us has the lead, for you my boy, she walks like a dream. You love to do things for her that you see us doing; holding her lead, brushing her, feeding her. You’re yet to master that last one. On more than one occasion I’ve had to let the dog eat her food off of the floor rather than out of her bowl. You insist on taking the measuring cup back to the kitchen whenever she’s fed though, marching through the living room and holding onto it with both hands, clapping yourself once you’re done.

Laurie in close BW

I feel like we have such an amazing bond with you, both your Dad and I. You like to sit with your Dad on the sofa or cuddle up to him in bed, and while you let me do those things with you, I’m obviously not as good as him in those moments. Despite my love of books; it’s often him that you choose to read to you, and I love watching the pair of you together (usually reading the same page over and over again).

We’ve rigged the cot onto the side of our bed, so it’s minus one side, and you sleep in some of the strangest positions. Usually with your bum stuck up in the air, occasionally you park it on my pillow. I’ve actually grown so used to your long legs encroaching on my bed that when I actually go to bed with you curled on your own bed instead of mine, I feel like something is missing.

You’re still a little boob monster and I never really imagined we’d still be doing the breastfeeding thing after all this time. Some days it’s like you barely want it any more and I’m just an afterthought; other days I feel like I have a giant-sized newborn. I wouldn’t change it for the world though and I’m so proud of how far we’ve come together with it.

Laurie pointing

Laurie, you’re such a little cracker and you have a wicked sense of humour. You’re totally cheeky and so interested in other people as well. You’ve developed so much in just the last couple of months. I can’t wait to see how you grow and change in the months to come.

But I hope they come slowly and give me just a little more time to drink you in as you are now, my amazing little man.

Thank you for letting me be your mum.

All my love,
Your Mummy
xoxoxo

Activities · Parenting

Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Due to a mix up over dates when I actually needed to take days off work, I ended up with two days off work in the middle of the week; my first since switching to a new shift rotation.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that each week I rotate the Noodle’s toys so that nothing gets stale and we don’t end up with All. Of. The. Toys. in our living room at once. I follow a different theme each month with a sub-theme each week. This is probably because I’m weird and obsessive, but also it helps me to come up with interesting toy configurations and fun activities we can do together.

During the week with my days off our theme was Teddy Bears’ Picnic and that could only mean one thing.

In order to save washing down the highchair after our lunch, we set up a Teddy Bears’ Picnic on the living room floor for our meal!

This was a lovely family meal and I think it’ll be one we repeat fairly regularly in the future. I’m envisioning a monthly indoor picnic, maybe a little more often in the winter when the weather stops us going on so many outdoor adventures.

Bears and book

My favourite activities are the ones that don’t cost a penny and this one technically didn’t. I mean, we needed to eat so we had to get the food anyway, but sitting on the floor on a playmat made it feel different and special. As it was a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, we each brought a bear; Laurie had his Winnie the Pooh, I had Teddy Henry (who is only one day younger than me and probably looking considerably better for it) and the Spousal Unit brought Laurie’s Small Bear. They sat at the edge of the mat and watched us; we got so caught up in the yummy food that we quite forgot to share!

Laurie kickstarted things with some cold pizza as it took a while to prepare the chicken and salad. It took me the longest time to convince him that the reason we’d got the mat out was to sit on it, not to use it for a game of Flappy Flap. This did mean that not only did the teddy bears who had joined us had a couple of spills, but so did his pizza.

We’re not precious about floor food in our house though and I had expected some mess. We needed to run the vacuum round pretty soon after we finished eating because there were quite a lot of crumbs, but I’d kind of anticipated that and I was mostly just glad that the Spousal Unit refrained from getting anything really messy, like potato salad!

It was a proper feast. Laurie was absolutely obsessed with the crisps. He doesn’t normally get crisps so the fact that they were there for the taking meant that he went a little crazy on them. I was expecting him to be more enthusiastic about the pepper than he was; it was so sweet and boy has a definite sweet tooth but the crisps were the ultimate hit of the day!

Picnic food

It was a little bit spur of the moment in that we’d planned to have a salad and a picnic but it wasn’t until the last minute that I suggested it be a floor picnic because the weather wasn’t great for a trip to the beach, but I put together a rush job Spotify playlist with Teddy Bear themed music. One of the tracks I selected was actually a whole Winnie the Pooh story and that played mostly while we ate.

It might not have been as much of an adventure as a trip to Dunoon or an open top bus tour but it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon at home as a family. We’ll definitely be doing it again.

Bears

Parenting · Trips Out

Dunoon Castle House Museum

Dunoon has always been one of my favourite places to visit for a little day out. The fact that getting there requires us to take a ferry and then drive through some spectacular countryside always makes it feel like a bit of an adventure. I’ve also got many happy memories associated with the place; it’s where our labrador came from (for one thing), also the staff of Oxfam sang¬†Happy Birthday to me one year (on my actual birthday, not just as a random thing) and gave me a Jaffa Cake with a candle in it to blow out.

When things like that happen in a place, you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with it.

It’s been almost a year since we were last in Dunoon. Normally we complete a circuit of the charity shops there but this time we decided we wanted to do something a little bit different, so we packed up the car with Laurie and his bucket and spade, googled for some ideas of what to do and headed across the water.

Two things came up in our search; one was West Bay beach and the other was the Dunoon Castle House Museum.

Dunoon Castle House Museum

When we arrived (at the rather ridiculously early time of 8:30am) the tide was well in. We followed a sign for free parking but ended up down a very narrow road with a dead end at the bottom (and no parking in sight). Our second attempt at parking resulted in a car park with only one ticket machine which was out of order (telling us to buy a ticket from the other, nonexistent, machine).

We got lucky with our third parking attempt, where half the car park was free parking and the other half you had to pay for. We parked in the free half and set off to enjoy our day.

Although we’d planned to take a trip to the beach for some digging, the tide being in meant there wasn’t much to work with. We took a little toddle through town for some refreshments (and a nappy change) and met a lovely woman who had come out of the renovated Queen’s Hall to take our photo. She let us know that they have a soft play area in there, which although we didn’t end up going back to it during this trip, it’s on the cards for a future Dunoon visit.

Family Photo

Laurie was in the mood for roaming, so we set him free in the Castle Gardens and he had a great time just exploring. His favourite thing was to venture off several metres away, then turn back to double check we were still there.

He’s at that fantastic age where all he needs to keep him entertained is a patch of grass or a fairly solid ground to wander on. Throw in some plants to look at and steps to climb and he’s in his element!

 

The Dunoon Castle House Museum opens at 10am so we had a good twenty minutes of exploring, wandering, climbing, and meandering, before we were able to get in. I also got in a bit of time on the Wizards Unite game on my phone. ūüėČ

Museum Sign

We’d not read too much about the museum before we went in. I was expecting something similar to our local museum (which admittedly, I’ve not visited in many years now). It is housed in a pretty beautiful building which, judging from the confetti on the ground outside, is used for weddings.

The museum portion of the building is up a lovely red staircase (though there’s a lift as well, should it be needed). The main bit of the museum comprises of two rooms, one large and one medium-sized. The larger of the two is up several steps, but again there’s a stairlift so it’s easily accessible. We paid ¬£6 for two adults entry; as an accompanied child, the Noodle was free. As the museum is entirely funded on entry fees and donations, I felt that this was money well spent.

As soon as we got in, Laurie found the cabinet with old toys in in and stood there pointing at the vehicles making¬†brum brum noises, so I felt pretty certain we’d find enough to keep him occupied.

And we did.

While most of it was completely over Laurie’s head. There was still a lot that he found interesting and was able to engage with on his own level.

Most of the information around the museum is contained on boards that you can lift out of their holders to read. There was an archaeological replica showing different layers in the ground from different time periods and he spent ages turning those over, to the point that it prompted a little meltdown when we tried to move on from there.

The museums from my youth all seemed to keep everything shut up behind glass or behind ropes, whereas this museum seems to invite little hands. Laurie got up close with a Celtic Warrior and examined his clothing. He stroked cattle on a boat bound across the water. He joined a girl at her desk at school and he even steered a boat! One of his favourite things was simply sitting in a chair and flicking through a book of photos of churches in the area.

Laurie mans the helm

He was often a little reluctant to move on to the next bit, so there was a lot of hopping back and forth for the spousal unit and I; one of us stopping with the toddler and the other reading on ahead until we could coax him onward.

He did really well until the last cabinet which was a selection of military items under lock and key. He wanted to play with the bugle that was behind the glass and got upset that he couldn’t open the cabinet.

So we took him to the cinema.

In the smaller of the two rooms is a little cinema area with a slideshow of postcards from Dunoon and the surrounding area. Almost every postcard is followed up with a view of the area as it is now. We sat through it about twice as Laurie snoozed in my arms.

The spousal unit and I probably could’ve spent a little longer at the museum, but Laurie was feeling tired and was letting us know he’d had enough by this point, so we wrapped up our visit by checking out the Victorian rooms.

Just down the corridor from the museum rooms are a handful of rooms which are decorated as they would have been in a Victorian house. It reminded us a little of Flambards in Cornwall, just on a smaller scale. Laurie even perked up a little at this too and was very interested in looking through the windows into the rooms.

I definitely think that we’ll visit the Dunoon Castle Museum again in the future. Perhaps in a year or so when Laurie is a bit bigger and can be even more involved in looking at the exhibits. The staff there were wonderfully friendly and of course he totally charmed them too. We didn’t really have any need to ask them any questions about what we were looking at while we were there, but I got the impression from hearing them talk to other visitors that if we’d had any questions, they’d have been more than willing to answer them.

As always, I’ve not received any compensation for this post. We had a lovely day out and can happily recommend the museum to other visitors too.

Parenting · Trips Out

Vintage Tractor Club Rally @ Mount Stuart

The 6th of July was the Vintage Tractor Club Rally at Mount Stuart.

It’s an annual event which we’ve followed with varying degrees of interest since we moved in. Our involvement has ranged from standing down at the side of the road as the tractors drive through, waving and chatting to the drivers, to nosing out the window when we hear the roar of the engines and watching them as they go past our house from the comfort of our own home.

The Noodle is of an age now where we knew he would appreciate a trip to see the tractors; not because we’re into gender stereotyping (we did buy him the baby doll he fell in love with in the Bargain shop the other week) but because our boy is fascinated by things that go and also because we knew that there would be people with their dogs there and he loves them too! Also, we’d seen on Facebook that there would be a barbecue from the Bute Kitchen Team. Food is always a pretty big draw for us as well!

It was due to run from 12pm and we’d intended to leave to get down to the Big House at about 11:30am but we were delayed slightly when Laurie decided to faceplant an open drawer and cut the edge of his lip. Luckily it wasn’t serious but it took a bit of mopping up and comforting before he was happy to leave the house.

I thought he looked very snazzy in his appropriately themed jumper. Yes, I do dress him based on whatever activities we have planned for the day. I can’t help myself!

As we neared the Big House we heard a low rumbling sound and started hyping Laurie up.¬†Can you hear that? What do you think it is? Is it the tractors? I’m not entirely sure he even knew what a tractor was before that day but he seemed interested all the same.

Even though we were later than we planned, we arrived just in time to see the first batch of vintage tractors reversing along in front of the house. We stationed ourselves on the grass alongside them which gave us the perfect spot to watch the rest of the vehicles arriving.

As the number of tractors increased, so did the number of people. But it’s a big enough area that we didn’t feel crowded at all. Laurie was still able to stand at the edge of the grass and see without anyone being in front of him (always a concern of mine when little ones are around; I’m 5’2″ and always seem to end up with a 6-footer positioning themselves in front of me apparently oblivious to the fact I’m there).

Once the tractors were all positioned along the path in front of the house, they lined them up along the front of the house and on the road leading away from it. I don’t know how long it took to get them all there, I don’t remember looking at the clock the entire time. And I’m not even that interested in tractors, but it’s funny how easy it is to get drawn in. We had great fun spotting interesting or unusual looking tractors, pointing out the colours to Laurie, teaching him to wave at them as they went past. Since then waving at cars and other vehicles that pass us has become a new pastime of his.

In between all of this, Laurie was of course dog spotting (because that’s what we do wherever we go, spot dogs and bins). Over the course of the day we made friends with at least two friendly dogs; we’d left our own dog at home since it was a warm day and she’s a black lab.

The main mission, once all the tractors had arrived, was to locate the barbecue. Because priorities.

Laurie was determined to toddle off and do his own thing, so I sent the spousal unit off in search of food, with the instruction to come and find us when he had located it. The second he was out of sight, Laurie wandered off at about a hundred miles an hour and while he did succeed in finding the barbecue, we then had no way of letting his father know where it was because he’d got my phone in his pocket. It didn’t take long for us to be reunited, but for the rest of the day I kept my phone in¬†my pocket, just in case. There were plenty of Mount Stuart staff on hand overseeing things who had been able to point the spousal unit in the direction of the food.

We enjoyed two lovely pork burgers, sharing bites from them with Laurie. I probably could’ve eaten another one. In hindsight it might have been fairer to get one just for Laurie, rather than sharing ours with him, but two burgers between two adults and a toddler was really plenty. We followed it up with an ice cream each later and felt plenty full enough. At ¬£5 each for a burger in a roll, plus ¬£1.50 for a can of pop, it was a slightly more costly meal than we’d normally have had. But it was a lovely treat and so definitely worth it.

As it was a sunny day, we did the same as many families and sat down on the grass at the front of the house. I love the green here for letting Laurie roam about. It’s big enough to let him have a good run and once you’re on the flat you know he’s going to be safe.

One of my favourite things was watching him studying two older boys who were rolling down the slope onto the green. He desperately wanted to join in but I’m not sure he could quite work out the lying down at the top of the slope and then rolling over the edge. Instead he made his own little game, climbing up the slope towards his dad, then turning at the top and running down towards me. He’d pick up momentum and he’d get this adorable look of pure joy on his face, then I’d catch him seconds before he went over head first (I only missed once and only a little bit at that).

Laurie and Mum kiss

I think he’d have happily ignored all of the rest of the tractors and just carried on running up and down that slope all afternoon. But we coaxed him away with a promise of an ice cream and by pointing out some more dogs, to go and look at some more of the tractors that we’d not seen earlier in the afternoon.

It wasn’t just tractors that were out at the Vintage Tractor Club Rally. There was a really old bus and a car with ammo boxes like something out of an apocalyptic drama. Apparently Lightning McQueen was in town earlier in the day too, though we didn’t spot him at Mount Stuart.

Laurie with red tractor

As I’ve said, I’m not really¬†into tractors so I’m sure part of the day was lost on us, but we really enjoyed just being out in the nice weather, commenting on how old the tractors were, how big their wheels were, talking to Laurie about the colours of them and so much more.

We’d just finished our ice creams when the rumble of engines started up again and they all started to pull away; after leaving Mount Stuart I believe they continued round the island on their way back to town. I wasn’t expecting them to go quite so soon otherwise we’d have found a better position to watch from rather than standing in front of the entrance to the Big House. But we didn’t really miss anything and by this point Laurie was getting a little tired anyway so it was a good time for us to wrap things up.

Laurie watching tractors leave

I’ve got a feeling that, like the open top bus trip we’d taken the day before, this will be one of those things that Laurie will get more from in the future. I hope that we’re able to take him next year, and perhaps spend a little more time looking at tractors instead of the dogs at the event.

This was a free event and we were not compensated in any way for our review.

Parenting · Trips Out

Isle of Bute Open Top Bus Tour

I recently changed the hours that I work in order to provide maternity cover for a colleague. It means that I’ve gone from a three day week with every Friday on, to a four day week with every Friday off.

It’s amazing the difference having one less day a week with my boy has made. I feel like we have to cram as much as we can into those three days off, whereas my four days off were to be enjoyed at a far more leisurely pace. Now there’s an outing off the island planned for every other week and I wake every Friday at home itching for something to do to get us out the house and keep us occupied. It’s only one day but I’m so much more aware of how short our time together is now.

We’d planned to go to the beach to test out the buckets and spades we’d acquired in Largs the week before, but the day dawned rather drizzly and as the forecast was for rain in the afternoon as well, it looked like a beach trip was off the cards. The spousal unit had a lie in while Laurie and I breakfasted and played in the living room; I felt like I needed some time alone with him to drink up the hours I’d missed out on over the previous four days.

When the spousal unit joined us we agreed that the beach wasn’t the best plan for the day, so we pottered around, playing games with Laurie (who was a little firecracker and found everything we did hilarious). He pulled out a play mat and we developed an elaborate game of throwing it over his head which made him erupt in giggles.

And then I threw out the suggestion of the open top bus tour.

And just like that we were in a rush to get out the house.

It was 9:10am by this point and the first bus goes at 10:30am.

The next twenty minutes were a whirlwind of tooth brushing, hair brushing, pulling on of shoes and coats (Laurie was most insistent that I should wear my butterfly slip on shoes instead of my trainers), and tumbling out the door to catch the bus for our day’s adventure.

The bus tour is run by City Sightseeing and lasts 90 minutes, taking you on a circuit around the island, giving you a potted history of the notable people, events and connections our tiny island has. I often feel like we’re a small and insignificant little island, but the tour always helps me to appreciate that our island has had a massive influence on the wider world.

An adult ticket costs ¬£12 but it gives you a day ticket which can be used on any other bus on the island, so it’s perfect for getting an overview of the island and then popping out on another bus once you’ve decided where you want to visit. My personal choice (if I was visiting for the day) would be to do the open top bus in the morning, then use the bus ticket to head out to Mount Stuart or one of the beaches for the afternoon. The tour starts from Guildford Square (right opposite the ferry terminal) but I’m pretty certain you could hop on at any point in the journey.

I should probably add that we go on the open top bus tour roughly once per year. It’s a good way to show off the island when we have visitors. We last did it when Laurie was six months old; he was too young to appreciate it and actually fell asleep for most of it. Now he’s of an age where he loves spotting things out the car windows (especially cows and bins, of all things!) so we thought it would be a big hit with him.

I think the usual thing with these tours is that the driver pops a CD on and then makes sure that they drive at the right speed to take in all the points of interest that the recording mentions. But we were lucky that our driver, Paul, narrated the whole tour himself.

He’s very good at keeping everyone on the bus involved. There were seven passengers and we were all sat under the cover at the front of the bus, so he came up to speak to us twice (at the beginning and about twenty minutes into the journey when we reached Port Bannatyne). He shared jokes and stories and has obviously done his research (at one point he mentioned writing away for information about the transport of the midget submarines that were tested in the waters off Bute). There were also jokes aplenty, most of which I’d heard on previous trips on the bus, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying them (and the reactions of the passengers who were taking the trip for the first time).

He also stops the bus at one point to go and give a dog a biscuit; a little Westie who obviously waits for the bus to go past because the second she spotted it she came running full pelt towards us. I suspect that this, and seeing the cows, was the highlight of Laurie’s trip out.

Cows

I was full of good intentions of taking lots of photos on our way round the island. I planned to pass Laurie back and forth between the spousal unit and I like a little hot potato so we could each have a turn with the camera and get some photos. But just past Port Bannatyne, where we stopped to learn about the midget submarines, Laurie decided that was the best time for his morning nap, leaving me with armfuls of sleeping toddler until he finally stirred coming past Mount Stuart. Having over 80cm of toddler cradled in your arms on a bus seat is not conducive to a good photography experience!

One of my favourite things about the open top bus tour is that you get to see the island from a new perspective. The spousal unit doesn’t usually get to enjoy the scenery while he’s driving, and I am hampered by the fact that in the car or on foot you can’t see over tall hedges to look across the fields where the standing stones are. I could probably quite happily sit on the bus without the commentary, but there’s always something about the island that I’ve forgotten and I’m reminded of on these excursions.

I’m glad we took Laurie on the bus this year, though I’m slightly disappointed that he wasn’t awake for more of it, because I know he would’ve loved seeing all the different cows and sheep. By the time he woke up we’d passed all the farmland, though he did get to see the cows we drive past every day.

I really think that next year will be the year that he truly starts to get something out of it; obviously, not the vast amounts of information about Bute, but the fact that he’ll be able to look out the window and spot things (and hopefully stay awake for the duration). I’m also thinking that perhaps we’ll try taking him on another open top tour bus some time, like when we visit Glasgow or Oban (the City Sightseeing website says they’ll be starting tours there this year).

I wasn’t compensated for this post. We took a trip out on the open top bus, enjoyed it and took some nice photos, so I decided to share about it here.

IVF · Parenting

An Introduction of Sorts

I’m Cait and I’ve blogged my way around the internet before. My last blog¬†Click’s Clan¬†ran for several years and documented our journey towards having our son through IVF treatment.

The blog sort of stagnated during my pregnancy (owing to hyperemesis) and following it (owing to having a small person dependent on me for life and everything). I tried to get back into it a couple of times, but always faltered because it felt like that blog belonged to someone else now. That was the me who tried to get pregnant (mostly unsuccessfully) for seven years and who filled the time in between those attempts with books and films and knitting and colouring in and all sorts of other things that I still enjoy, but in a different way to the way I did before.

And so I decided the time had come for a new blog.

Except then I started back at work after my Maternity Leave. And started another Open University degree (because why the hell not?!) and it lay sort of sad and alone, while my life continued to get busier and fuller and now here I am.

I feel like ever since my boy was born, I just start to get the hang of things and then something happens or changes and we adapt and start all over again. It’s like staying on your feet when you stand in the sea. Sometimes a wave will come along that knocks you off balance, but once you get into the rhythm of things you can stay upright, until the next big wave means you have to start all over again.

But now I feel like I’ve started to get into the swing of it. I’ve got some sense of routine in the ever shifting routine; I know how to bounce back up when those waves knock me off my feet. And I’ve got a summer break until the next module of my degree starts (Latin, woo hoo! [Please note: That’s not sarcasm, I’m actually seriously thrilled to be starting to study it]).

And yet, I can’t bring myself to pick up where I left off on the old blog. That’s the old Cait who tried to get a post up every day of the week. There’s too much that’s changed since those days when I used to follow an elaborately planned schedule of posts.

So here’s¬†Of Needles and Noodles. A name which has a whole host of meanings to me, maybe I’ll explain those in a future post.

I’m aiming to post once a week and I’m thinking it’ll be a little glimpse into our lives, the places we go, my thoughts on parenting after infertility and during future fertility treatments, and how wonderful and amazing my boy is. Except it’ll probably be a bit tongue in cheek and irreverent because that’s just how we roll here.

Laurie in Church.jpg