Friday, November 27, 2015

what comes after infertility?

I was shocked to see that I had a comment yesterday, as I seldom do, unless you count spam, which sadly gets filtered out...The comment hinted that I was a bit more self involved and not as happy with my situation as I should be, given that I now have two kids and hence I should not be focusing on other aspects of my life (like running or playing piano), or experiencing negative feelings such as frustration, or sadness.

The writer had not had children yet, and was still battling infertility.  I understand oh so well how one thinks in that position.  I was there, and one does not forget.

One pictures a future that has one radiant child, or maybe two, and the love that surrounds them permeates the vision.  There is nothing in that vision about daily life, brushing teeth, getting the flu, etc, you get the idea.

Conversely, when picturing a future that has no children (I was really good at this one!), one sees grey and black and empty, sad days, surrounded by other women who have what you want and do not seem to be as grateful for it as they should be, or as good a parent as you would be.  A world full of daily irritation and emptiness emerges as the main picture.  However, there is no room in this vision for the good things that might happen from day to day, such as dinner with your partner in a beautiful setting, travel that might bring one joy, deeper relationships with other adults, or a dog that loves you and you can run with every morning.  I don't know.  Something positive will happen, but I sure as heck did not see it as part of this vision.

To put it more succinctly:  you cannot know how the future will unfold, whether you do or do not have children.  Visions of the future took up 95% of my brain function during my infertility years, but most of those visions were lacking the awareness that they were snapshots, not reality, and that they lacked the substance and the emotion of daily life that actually coloured the snapshots.

That being said, I am immensely grateful to have Emma and Daniel.  I pray daily and thank God for this unimaginable good family that I was blessed with.  I love my children deeply, and wish that I never got frustrated with them, and that I were a better mother every day.  Do I succeed?  So far, not really, as the writer astutely noted.  All I can do is stay true to my feelings, write about them, and hope that with daily work I become the kind of mother that deserves Emma and Daniel.

Ultimately, whether I deserve Emma and Daniel actually does not matter all that much though.  What matters is that I love them enough to inoculate them against any mistakes that I make.  Children are resilient and as long as they are loved, they do just fine.  That should reassure all of you mothers out there that also struggle with being imperfect, occasionally frustrated, and occasionally focused on yourselves.  We will be alright, and our children will be alright.

Thank you so much for commenting.  As you can see, a comment prompts a post.  Want to see me post more?  (insert wink).

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Daniel is swimming

Yep, my little boy decided that it is ok to put his face under water, and next thing I know we are jumping in and retrieving toys off the bottom of the pool.  He is turning 2 at the end of March, so I guess his chronological age is 1 year and 7 months.

Today I tried to put Emma's skates on his little feet to see if he can balance on the blades, and yep, he did not want to take them off.  In fact he got quite pissed off.  The skating rink is a prime space for tantrums, as he is very frustrated by a whole bunch of things:
- mom makes me wear mittens
-mom is not making the zamboni miraculously appear whenever I ask for "car, car, car"
-Emma and all the other kids are zooming by on their skates and I am just toddling on my boots
-mom is putting these silly bobs on my feet but they are obviously not skates and I do not like them
-big kids are playing hockey too close and too fast for my taste and they freak me out
-I am cold but still don't want to wear my mittens
-Mom makes me go home and I clearly am not ready.  Even though I am freezing cold and hungry-cranky-tired.

He has so much character, and if I am not exhausted, I actually find him pretty funny in a very endearing way.  However, lately I am running in the snow, and as a consequence I feel exhausted on my running days, with bone-deep tiredness and aching, headaches from the bright light, and lots of questions about why I keep on doing these crazy outdoor workouts when I have a perfectly good treadmill and a running track (the answer: because it is so beautiful outside, and winter is 8 months long around here, so I have to get out).  So I am occasionally too tired to laugh, and sometimes too tired to abstain from out of control yelling at my kids.

My number one thing to work on: stop yelling at the kids.  I rarely do, but when I do yell at them, it is obviously on days when I am very physically tired, and hence it should be a predictable, maybe even preventable occurrence.  My number two thing:  lose 5 lb of Halloween candy fat.  Number three:  get acclimatized to the snow again so that I can start feeling more human on my run days.

Things are improving since Daniel is not taking an afternoon nap as well.  He used to wake up very cranky, and not get out of that mood for many hours.  Now he is good natured all day long.  He also used to go to bed at 10 pm, keeping me awake way past my bedtime (which is often 8-9 pm when I am very tired).  Now, both kids go to bed at 7:30 pm and I even get some time to blog or play piano, which is so amazing to do again.  I can never play when Daniel is awake, because he comes to sit on my bench and wants to play as well.  Now, I am fantasizing about perfecting old songs, and learning some new ones.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


A few things have happened in the past month to make me recall the pregnancies that I have started to forget.  Firstly, I did a one month rotation in obstetrics, something that I had stopped doing about two years ago.  I felt as if I relived some of the more terrifying moments of the past few years.  I could identify all too well with the low grade nagging anxiety that accompanied all the prenatal visits of the high risk patients.  I felt like every obstetrical complication was familiar to me, a bit too intimately.  And I could also feel the overwhelming relief at the thought that I will never have to go through that again.

Secondly, one of my patients had an abruption at around 22 weeks and went into labour.  I relieved some of the agony of losing Adrian then.  She went on to viability but lost the baby after a few weeks in NICU, and her dazed grief gives me a deja vu feeling that is almost hard to manage.

Thirdly, and likely as a result of the above, I decided to read Ghostbelly, probably because I felt that I could take a closer look at my own pain through Elizabeth's words.  Aside from feeling acutely her agony of trying to decide whether she should have or could have done anything to change the outcome (I think that Adrian would still be alive if I had been pregnant in Vancouver, where anatomy scans are done at 18 weeks, as I had asked to do, and not at 20+ weeks as I was scheduled), the book, of course, made me remember.  I remember the loving peace that I felt holding little Adrian's body, mothering him for the brief time that I had.  I remember looking at the sky and seeing the ice in the air glitter, my senses also unusually sharp and aware.  I felt the pain that she described, at one point so acutely that I decided there and then to close the book and never look at it again.

I have reached a point in my life where I do not want to look too closely at this pain.  I live fully, I have living children that need me, and I think about Adrian all the time with love and longing.  At the same time, I have peace about him, and about my past, about the way things were.  This peace can sometimes be broken scratching the surface of the painful scab.  Is it worth it?

I have no doubt that sometimes my subconscious mind will prompt me to reading books and blogs that will make me re-experience the past.  However, I also know that I do not have the same need to re-experience as I did before, when I had to make sense of the events and hence could not avoid it.  It can now be laid to rest and woken up gently once in a while, when my subconscious tells me that it is time to do so.  In the meantime, life goes on...

Monday, September 21, 2015

A life off balance

I am currently living a life that feels very unbalanced, and I am not just saying it to justify my 21 day absence from the blog (especially after promising not to disappear).  I have started a training program in order to revisit my old OB skills and start applying them again, i.e. attending to births.  It is hard to describe how many hours per day are consumed by this program, but I am guessing that at the moment it is around 10-12 hours, plus multiple commutes daily (some of the work involves going home and coming back to the hospital at all hours of day and night).

This is taking place in Vancouver, where I chose to be in a smaller hospital that would remind me of my home town, and that is within 15 minutes driving from my parents' house.  I brought the kids, and the nanny, to stay here as well, but despite having them here with me, I don't think that they are seeing as much of me as they need.  They are still little, and they are used to me being their primary caregiver, despite the fact that I work about 30 hours per week.  Back home, a lot of those hours are in the evening, and on weekends, and so the daily average is still pretty low, between 4 and 6 in general.  They hate it that I am away from them.  I hate being away from them.  I am struggling to complete this program, and feel that I cannot stay longer than another week, although I initially was going to be here for another week and a half.  I think that I might just skip the last three days, particularly because I am ready to say screw it and give it all up.  Both kids have colds, and diaper rashes, and they fight more than usual, and they cry more than usual and I generally have a harder time interacting with them in a semi-civilized manner in the evenings because they are very prone to fits of temper.

We barely have time to wash and get dressed in the mornings, and to read a book and have dinner in the evenings, with very little time to go anywhere because I am constantly on call and may have to go back.  Swimming in the city is nothing compared to the beautiful and spacious pool that we have back home.  It is crammed with kids, and lessons, and there is not much room to enjoy life, although I do take them swimming sometimes.  I, on the other hand, did not have any chance to swim in the past month. I was able to run this weekend, and got my mother quite upset in the process because she thought that I should have stayed home with the kids and not taken that little time off to myself.  No, she did not have to watch the kids, my husband was looking after them, but that never stops a mother from being disapproving, as we all know. (However, I had not run for eight days, which is forever for a regular runner, and I needed to go, so go I did, even though it was pouring rain.  Best. Run. Ever.  Except that I got to hear it from my mom for a few days afterwards and also I now have shin splints, which is what happens when you only run once a week instead of every other day).

Anyway, I am rambling.  I miss my kids is the bottom line.  I have no idea how people can live with seeing their children only for a few hours at night.  I hate the wasted time in traffic, and feel that my moments with them are shortened by a hundred red lights. I am counting down the days until I finish this gruesome schedule and vow to not undertake such an endeavour anytime soon, although I shudder to think that someday I might need to work this way to pay for my living expenses, which is what I am noticing that more and more people have to do, with expenses going up and wages staying roughly the same.  I would like to know how other mothers cope with full time work and commute in the city, if anybody wants to share.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It has been a century

I miss my blog.  Over the course of the week, I have realized how much I miss having a place to write, and think, a place of my own for self expression and for generally documenting my thoughts as life goes by.

I have not updated here for so long that when I tried to log in, I realized that I forgot my password.  I then reset my password, logged in, and my blog had disappeared!  I thought my, that is a bit harsh, I go away for five seconds months and look, my blog is deleted off the face of the internet.  Then I figured out that hey, I am logging in with the wrong email.  Duh.  In my defence, I am not as smart as I used to be after having the kids.

My blogging time got eaten up by exercise time.  That is because for some reason I have decided that it is now time for me to start getting into some serious athletic shape, after lying in bed for the entire pregnancy with Daniel (and with Emma before), and after never being able to compete in any running or triathlon races due to never ending IVF madness.  After Daniel, I have finally felt that my body was back to normal, my own to operate and shape in any way I want, and I the first thing that I did was to get insanely fit.

I have run two half marathons this summer, one of which was a long mountain race that kicked my butt.  I run 35 km per week, swim with the local masters group, and do cross-fit.  My body is stronger and faster than ever before, even in my twenties.  However, all this takes time, specifically 6 am time,  so there goes my quiet blogging moment.

Regardless, I am in need of writing, and so I will have to find a niche of time somewhere.  I am impressed to see that the blog still gets traffic, I have to admit that it is nice to not be talking to myself over here, but at this point I feel like I would write even if I talked to myself.  Writing allows me to observe the world in a different way, to connect my present with my past, and to use my brain in a way other than pushing myself to run uphill six times more than I'd like.

That being said, creating blogging time will be tough.  I will have to see where I can steal it from.  As it is, Daniel is busy trying to plug a lamp into the outlet, so I have to interrupt constantly to chase him away from the power outlet, lest he plug his fingers in accidentally (or on purpose).  Emma is typing on my keyboard simultaneously with myself, so I have to delete gibberish.  And oh, now Daniel is typing too.  I had no idea that it was keyboard skills class.

And now Daniel pooped in his diaper. I really have to go...for now.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

At the end of Mother's Day

I find it hard to say Happy Mother's Day today on this blog, because I know that the women reading it (assuming that anybody actually is still reading:) often are not yet mothers, or they lost babies and hence the word "mother" is filled with pain and grief.  Despite that, in real life I blurt out Happy Mother's day to everyone around me (even to a male police officer-don't ask), assuming that everyone is happy to celebrate like I currently am.

Currently.  There was a time when this day was up there on the list of bad days to survive through.  I recall a time when there were women with children and babies all around me, and not a single one I knew was struggling the way I was.  I remember feeling singled out, pitied, unworthy. It was not so long ago...

I wonder if there is anything that I could say today to the woman that I was back then, with the life experience in between then-me and now-me.  It would likely sound like this, stripped bare of all embellishments:  Life is what it is.  What you see now is what your reality is.  Accept it.  Hope is good and necessary, but even more than hope and living in a dream about the future, make the most of what you have been handed today.  Try to limit the amount of time spent feeling sorry for yourself, and ask yourself what you can do now to life today to the fullest.

I know that, although I am happy and fulfilled today, the future will bring more pain and loss.  It always does.  I hope that when it does, I am strong enough to remember this principle.  Make the best of what you have today, and do not linger in the self-pity party.  Go on and life might bring on more joy.

Luckily, for me it did, and after all that loss, there was a day like today, when MrH, Emma and Daniel took me to a restaurant for dinner and I had a chance to look at my living children (I even brought Adrian's urn too) and to feel immensely blessed.  I know that today is the day that we thank mothers, and I did thank mine, for doing a great job of loving and caring for us.  However, even more importantly for me,  I gave thanks to my children today for coming into my life and making me a mother.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday Daniel!

My sweet little man has turned one today!  Here is a picture of him eating his birthday cake
I am seriously in love with my children, but my love for little man is growing and growing as he is getting older and cuter.  He likes to give kisses with an open mouth, nice wet ones, and he likes to put his head on me to rest (any part of my body will do, as long as it is momma).

He is pulling himself to stand, and climbing up stairs.  He tries very hard to go down but has not yet figured out that he needs to turn around.  I would estimate that it will take him a few more months for that kind of discovery, based on what I remember with Emma.

On most days, I cannot believe my luck that I have these two small kids running around the house and driving us crazy.  I mean hello, I am supposed to be infertile hahaha.  In fact I really really am infertile now.  I did some spring cleaning and came across a packet of sanitary pads, which I happily gifted to my friend.  I feel very free without the stupid uterus.  Thank you Daniel for this unexpected bonus that your birth has brought me :)

I am not writing quite as much because I am incredibly busy with work and exercise.  I have become very fit, fitter than I have ever thought I would be in this lifetime.  I just ran 15.5 km (9 miles?) Saturday, and the fun thing is that I do it every Saturday, and have been doing it throughout winter, in the snow.  It is now a fair bit easier actually not to have to fight the snow with each step (we are just going through the melt, and the roads are clear).  If you told me I would be doing forested trail runs in deep winter at -35C I would have laughed, but I did, and I will continue to do them.  I swim twice a week, 2 km each time, and I run three times a week, for a total of about 30 km right now, but increasing steadily each week towards 40 km. I just got my bike out too, and will road bike soon.  I am preparing for a triathlon olympic size in July, and for a half marathon in the mountains in August.

I love being so active, but I would never have been able to do it without my husband's support.  He truly believes that I need time to myself, and has figured that if I exercise I am less anxious and worried, which is a double reason to do it.  MrH has been a wonderful support during this past year, and during my whole marriage to him.  Having two small kids is no small feat, even though we love them more than life itself.  He has done it before, and knows how to put it into perspective for me.

What a year this has been!  one year ago, little Daniel and myself were struggling for life, and now we are thriving and happy and surrounded by love and support.  Thank you God! that is all that I can say.   And hopefully many more of these wonderful years will come.

My son, may you grow to be a good man, an honest, kind, generous and loving man, the way that your father is, and the way that I try to be (minus the man part I mean).  It is a huge joy and honour to be your mother.  You were the last embryo, and honestly took me by such happy surprise when you implanted.  The fact that you are healthy and happy and smart and everything under the sun today is proof that amazing things happen in life.  I hope you will carry this thought with you wherever you go (and of course don't go too far from momma, my love).