PAIL September Monthly theme post: Write to life.

This post is part of the PAIL monthly theme posts (Pregnancy After Infertility and Loss), and September’s theme is Why we blog. . Other posts from the members are here.

I started blogging in February of 2011 as a space to record my journey as we tried to conceive. I’d spent so long trying not to get pregnant, it was just weird to be on the other bus!!! I needed somewhere to clarify how I felt about it, and I’ve always done that with writing. Private Blogging was just an evolution of my existing emotional processes.

Six months later, I began thinking we may have a problem, reading infertility blogs, trying to get my head around what was next. On my fortieth birthday I was sitting in an IVF clinic waiting room with a wad of Internet research and an armload of questions, PCOS for me and a couple of low sperm counts for hub-in-boots. The thoughts had to go somewhere.

Trying to conceive is inherently funny. IVF is inherently funny. The things you have to do to help science make a baby are madness. Absolute madness! Counting follicles like you have an egg carton in a supermarket, injecting yourself, wandering around secretly carrying ovaries that look and feel like bunches of lead grapes. Jerking off in strange rooms with bar fridges and porn…it ain’t your normal journey.

I also felt writing about it here would allow hub-in-boots to see my emotional journey in his own space and time, if and when he wanted to read about it, not by my leaning on him too heavily (at least at first). I thought it would help us communicate, with more space and reflection. I think it definitely achieved this, and our journey through IVF and bedrest were, I’m sure, much more harmonious and mutually supportive as a result.

Plus, once you’re out about IVF, you can get tired answering the same questions, talking about it all the time. I blogged so I didn’t have to spend my life talking about it. Everyone knew where we were at, so we could start conversations from a place of shared info. People didnt have to ask me how it worked, I wrote it out for them.

The decision to be “out” about IVF was a very personal and practical one. I had depression years ago. I suffered very very badly, before I knew what was happening. I remember thinking if I really knew what it was, what it felt like before hand, I would’ve recognised it, and got help sooner. When I got better. I swore I would be out about depression. I would always tell people, I would talk about it, if it was relevant. Just in case it helped just one person.

And so it was with infertility. Another taboo, another outspoken Jo. Another hope to suffer with a purpose. And with humour.

You would think that pregnancy would end an infertility blog, but the fact is, a pregnant “infertile” feels differently about being pregnant. It is a whole other category of complicated. Add that to pregnant infertile, with a sub chorionic haematoma of grave proportions with a complicated pregnancy on extended bedrest, hell yeah I still needed to blog. I was living in liminal space, on the threshold of everything, but nowhere.

I needed to blog my child into existence.
I needed to write him alive.
I needed to distance myself from the spectre of loss that sat beside us, waiting for tragedy.

And when jman arrived, I needed to blog myself into being a Mum. I needed to blog his first days, as a gift to him. I needed to blog away that spectre of loss that haunted us, to blog away the pregnancy trauma, (because waiting and hoping 24/7 it is traumatic).

As jman hit nine weeks old, my nephew, 22, committed suicide. No warning. Simon, originally himself a very premi baby with months in NICU, would have been twenty three on Monday.

I felt like the spectre of loss had just moved somewhere else in the family, that it was still here. I felt that our making it through somehow contributed to Simon not making it. I understand this is completely illogical, nonsense, but emotions can speak other truths from logic. My anxiety skyrocketed. I had nightmares about the ‘inquest at jensen’s death’ if he slept through more than a couple of hours. I dreamt of my nephew. I dreamt of losing Jensen, as in physically leaving him places. I didn’t always directly write about these things, but I tried to blog myself to a more positive mindset, to record each day, to see how real and alive he was, and to see how safe we were, even as my mummy radar shifted into overdrive.

On a more prosaic and joyful level, I wanted to share the joy of this special boy who we’d worked so hard for. I wanted to celebrate his life, with both those who loved us in real life, and those who had joined us in our journey, online, and rooted for us, and cheered for us, and cried for us, and helped to bring him here. They all pushed us another step forward.

It does annoy me a bit, people that condemn Internet over sharing about their children. I get the safety thing, I get it, but what they miss is how enmeshed you are at first as a mum, how their life is your life for a long time. I will end this blog at some point, when I feel it is taking from jman rather than recording for him. I’m his mother, I trust I can make that judgement, like I make a thousand other judgements for him, every single day.

I thought about transitioning to another space when he arrived, but it is all part of our journey. It is all part of the one continuum, and I don’t care who knows the gory details. I don’t care if it doesn’t have tidy easy to tag cookie cutter blogger edges. It is our life. It is messy and multi faceted. It is worth sharing.

Right now, with a fourteen month old tear away on the loose, blogging is sometimes another nagging chore, but mostly it is a perspective changer. It can be hard when you’re picking up books for the sixteenth time that day, have just been hit in the head with a yoghurt covered spoon, and you’re wondering why you bothered with two degrees and whatever happened to your brain? Because I might blog about them, because I have a problem with perfectionism and at times negative thinking, blogging, particularly humourous posts, make me stop and reframe the moment, from “what a disaster!” to”what a hilarious post!”.

When I travelled solo, or dated idiots, I’d always think how Would I Tell the Story; as I got stuck in carriage full of smugglers having lost my passport on a Bulgarian night train on the border, faced with an Alsatian with bad breath, the thought of the dinner party story it would become made me stop and reassess, and not panic. And so it is with the parenting trip. I think in stories, in words, in connecting my story with other stories. I always have. A blog is simply a logical next step.

The value in blogging after, after infertility and insurmountable odds, is firstly to show it is possible to those still in the trenches. Secondly it is to celebrate the joy of a little person becoming a person, growing, developing, and thirdly to acknowledge that how I parent requires everything I have been until now, and more.

Lastly, and this is something I only thought about after I first drafted this post, when you become a mum it is a time of personal upheaval. You lose who you were. You lose your edges. You get to be someone else, but eventually I think you need to try and recognise which parts of yourself are lost, and to an extent mourn them, which parts are new and worth celebrating, and integrate those disparate selves into a whole. This, I think, is how you avoid becoming “just a mum”, how you avoid resenting your partner or child through the upheaval, how you find a way to parent well, and how you find a new normal by selecting from the smorgasbord of selves to create a new plate of you. I’m laying out my dishes in these pages, I’m looking at what is there, I’m thinking which parts I want a second helping of. That’s why I blog.

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The Monday snapshot: and gave me a Vegemite sandwich

First trip to the zoo this weekend. Jman was pretty happy about it.

Though the Vegemite sandwich rates higher, in his estimations, than the elephants.

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He’s big on giraffes.

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He adored the aviary, pointing and exclaiming at every little bird that flitted by.

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He roared at the lion. (Must have been from the Fisher Price app, as I don’t think they’d let a lion in peekaboo barn, and we don’t have many lions in our books yet….).

It was very kind of the chimpanzees to have a turf war right in front of us. Jman kept his cool as a chimp beat his chest and shouted, eye to eye with jman just inches away with only a pane of glass separating them! The old man chimp wandered up and waved to jman. Jman waved back. It was very cute. They continued to wave and gesticulate at each other for about a minute. It was too amazing to stop and get photos of!

The Jman didn’t get the seal show, but he liked the applause.

What a top day out.

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Mother of invention #16: pram face

Have you ever noticed when you take your little angel out in the stroller or pram, they zone out? Ever try to engage with a pram faced toddler? It’s like they think you’re the hired help with no right to interact with the main man. The squealing bundle of movement that wouldn’t leave you alone is reduced to a zen like calm after a few short blocks, a couple of birds and a few cars whizzing by.

Parents, wouldn’t it be nice if you could summon pram face whenever you liked? Well now, thanks to the baby shopping network, you can.

Find yourself with a toddler standing on a shopping centre change table covered in poo, kissing himself in the mirror whilst simultaneously dropping the wipes into the sink?^^ A single spray of Pram face mist will leave him blissed out, lying down cooperatively and compliant within seconds.

Trying to visit grandma in hospital with a complete nutcase of a child, who tries to swipe her dinner, run down the corridor, and make friends with people with infectious disease?^^ A single wafting mist of Pram face will have him quietly holding his sippy cup, sitting on the bed watching Peppa Pig.

Trying to dress a boa constrictor who is hanging upside down from a light fitting, throwing toast and trying to poke you in the eye^^? Pram face will fix it.

Tired of being used as a human gymnasium, dying to sip just one cup of tea from beginning to end? A little dab of Pram face concentrate behind the ears and you’ll be leafing though a magazine whilst watching Oprah in no time.

How about those car seat wobblies? The arched back, the tears, the head shaking, the complete and utter refusal to cooperate with being strapped in? You’ll see the car face soon enough, but in the meantime, you need Pram face.

Recommended doses are not more than three squirts a day, so choose your pram face moments wisely. Available In peppermint, lavender and cheap wine scent, with a super economy sized pack just out, and a free purse pack with every purchase.

Pram face. You know you want to.

Get yours today.

^^ this really happened

Mother of invention #15: baby barometer

Oh the kids home shopping network has a good one for you this week, parents. We finally get our long absent product launches back on track with this week’s special treat.

Are you tired of waking up to an unforeseen crap day? Have you steeled yourself for another day wading through s%^t, only to find you have a little ray of sunshine? Is the unpredictability of life with baby just messing with your mind?

You need the baby barometer.

More accurate than any weather report, able to predict small babies in a single bound, the baby barometer will return a measure of control to your chaotic baby life.

Just before you retire for the evening, glance over the easy to read dials.

Forecoming low pressure system:
Cancel all plans, batten down the hatches, stock up on the baby Panadol. Under no circumstances should you go near a supermarket.

High pressure:
Make a coffee date, captain compliant has come to stay.

Poonami warning:
Don’t wear white. Wipes in every room.

Sunny with a chance of grizzle:
Continue with existing plans, but pack drugs, snacks, distracting toys and a dummy ( pacifier).

Red bull:
Your child will act like he has a secret stash of energy drinks in the cot. Which he didn’t share. Get him outside, early, and get physical. Continue until unconscious.

High Velcro warning:
Forget getting things done, forget babysitters, it was never going to work. Don’t fight it. You are doing everything one handed today, or not at all.

The baby barometer. Only $89.95 plus postage and handling. Get it now.

The Monday snapshot: too cool for school

The weather is fining up, so it’s time to break out the big boy hats. In a size 4-6 year old. Hence the nickname: nugget ned with a giant head……

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Apparently, in this week’s other highlights, BBQ corn is amazing, and much more interesting than the sawn off kernels your mother left in a neat pile on your plate. Corn was a big hit. The nappies, I’m not so much looking forward to….

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And sadly, no photo of the hot fireman, but the Jman did love checking out a fire truck this week. Even if I did have to convince him to leave the fuel cap ALONE.

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Things are changing rapidly around here. He is walking more and more in little stretches, and climbing….for example, waiting until I had my hands full making salmon rissoles then piled up pillows to step on so he could climb up onto the couch and threaten to jump off the end, whilst I have mashed potato and breadcrumbs up to my wrists. Good on you, Jman. The crisis was averted. Just.

He still likes obstacles, and unpacking cupboards, and I’ve taken to leaving surprises in “his” cupboard. The small tin of tuna caused great excitement, and he ran up and down the lounge holding it aloft like the Statue of Liberty. He may not get over the mind blowing surprise of a jar of hundreds and thousands. Done up. Very tightly.

What can we say: (not a braggy checklist, just a record for our memories of 13 months old):

Ta, pretty reliably, particularly if we find food items in the nappy Bag or cupboard that we’d like opened.

We say bath.

Pup, every time we see a dog.

Sum dat (you can see many words are food related…).

Pertea. Short for “cup of tea”, or, in Australian, “youwannacuppa tea?”

Dude. Used by daddy a lot as he changes a dirty nappy. “Woah, DUDE! What have you been eating????”. Now repeated by jman.

Dad, Mum, Bub.

His favourite game is I shout “MUM, SAY MUM!!!”! And he looks me right in the eye and says DAD!

If I do it again, he changes to BUB! And then laughs uproariously.

Boo, for book.

Toat for toast, while signing toast.

We sign plane now. And we try to sign chicken.

We say Dutt. For duck. And the duck says “uh uh uh uh”, like when I tell him not to touch something. Apparently my uh uhs and my quack quacks are similar!

Brmmmm brmmmm for car, truck, bus.

MmmmmmmMMMMmmmm when we’d like a drink from mum.

Pear, which sounds more like Par. “Par par” usually means any fruit: pear, banana, mandarin, apple, sometimes a tomato is a “par”. It can also mean stop with the main course and give me dessert.

I think there’s a new word mmmmMA, which is Grandma. Grandma, who already had a broken wrist, fell and broke her hip, so there’s been quite a bit of running to hospitals and talking to mmmmmMA.

And of course, we still say Wooooooooot. Which, incidentally, appears to be the noise the ipad makes when a message goes. Oh dear.

His level of comprehension is SCARY all of a sudden, which has made me realise it may be time to lose the potty mouth mamma thing. His pre verbal babble is constant and HILARIOUS. I listen, and it’s like I can almost comprehend it, it’s so close to actual speech with all the amazing intonations. He chats all day every day, in the car, in the house, in the pram, playing, walking. He’s got an opinion on everything. Our conversations when I respond to him and ask him a question “oh really?….and then what happened?” Just crack me up.

Following instructions / comprehension : (again, for us and memory, not listing our child’s “skills”!)

This week he can …
…clap hands if you ask (without gesturing),
….I asked him to “turn on the little light” and he turned on the bedside touch lamp,
… “bring mummy the book”…no problems
….point to his mouth, nose, hair when asked. He’s not so good at eyes or ears !!! But these skills seem to have “erupted” all of a sudden. Last week, I swear he’d look at me like I was talking Russian when I asked him to point to his mouth. This week,” yeah, it’s here, what’s it to you?”

Is amazing how quickly things change. Seeing him wandering around wearing little soft soled shoes makes him look so grown up. Like a little man, you now see the glimpses of the school boy, the scary teenager, the kid on the couch watching tele (I hope not!). He changes every single day.

TV

How do you get through two weeks of housebound in a two bedroom apartment with a one year old?

Tele.

Against all parenting manuals and intentions.

Tele.

Don’t worry. These will not be ongoing features of my parental landscape. But the whole “no screen Time for under twos” recommendations are about as realistic as me never eating chocolate. I mean, you know, sometimes we, crazily, like to watch the news while the jman is still up. Madness, I know. Sometimes, we have subjected him to Masterchef. Yep, we’re destroying his learning.

It’s that or melted brain mummy. Your call.

So here, for your viewing pleasure, are some key features of my viewing pleasure in the last two weeks of hand foot & mouth hell.

Angelina Ballerina

Angelina is a ballet dancing mouse. She likes pink.

I’m just gonna put it out there: Angelina’s a bitch. She is self centred, a prima Donna, narrow minded….all the things you want to encourage in a child.

Every episode has the same theme: 1. Project or challenge 2. Angelina thinks her ballet way is the only way 3. Angelina argues with people of difference 4. Angelina reconciles herself with the idea that difference is great and the world (of dance) is diverse and wonderful.

Oh, and her ballet teacher is scottish, and only has one top.

Next episode: Angelina’s a narrow minded bitch again.

Arthur

So the other day, right, as i lolled on the floor unable to walk for the sores on my feet from my darling baby’s sharing of hand foot and mouth disease, i I stumbled on Arthur. Arthur is an animated mouse (sensing a theme here?).

In this episode, someone did Arthur a favour.

Then a girl he knew convinced him this was terrible. She explained the concept of interest, and how the more favours you owed someone, the harder it would be when they came “to collect”. Arthur spent the whole episode stalking this guy, trying to return favours (when it wasn’t really wanted).

Sounds like a great lesson in compound interest and an excellent way of managing credit card debt. In terms of ways of modelling friendship? Yeah, slightly lacking. I kept waiting for the punch line, the gag, the friend saying “no no, true friendship is when you don’t expect them to pay you back “. No no, that was how it ended. Look out if your friend does something for you, you’ll have to pay them back. Wow.

We won’t ever be watching that one, jman.

Pokoyo

Putting it out there: I don’t care if jman wants to watch tele: I’m not missing Pokoyo. It’s funny, tongue in cheek, vaguely educational in a sarcastic way.

And I love sleepy bird.

Little princess

This cartoon is twisted and bloody funny. The little princess is a spoilt pain in the ass shocker. But I like her.

Julian cleary is one of the voices. That’s kind of all you need to know.

Most of her friends and family are barking mad.

The Wotswots / in the night garden

I was never big on things like the Teletubbies. The wotswots and In the Night Garden make about the same level of sense. I can’t stand shows with made up words about the tinkytonk travelling over the cloud land to see the wing wings. Give me a Spike Milligan poem anyday.

So imagine my surprise when, last week, Jman stood, absolutely cracking up at the Wotwots. And later, killing himself laughing out loud at a character chasing a spouting shoot of water around In The Night Garden. And this was on one of the Panadol-neurofen-Panadol-neurofen days.

Peppa pig

I love Peppa pig. I like the politically incorrect fat jokes about daddy pig. I like the stupid dinosaur obsessed little brother, I like the parents’ faults, and I think everyone should live on the top of a giant hill in isolation and fall over when they laugh. The narrator is funny. The end.

Postman Pat

I love the theme song. Then I tend to get bored. Except when there are highland coos in the way of the delivery.

Playschool

Play school is a wonderful Australian show. I loved it as a kid. Jman loves it. It is probably the one thing we may watch together most days (usually for 10-15 minutes). Jman thinks they are talking to HIM. He dances along, he laughs, we sing the songs and do the actions, sometimes while having an afternoon snack or late breaky in the high chair, or getting dinner ready.

Giggle and Hoot

These are hosts of the segments in between shows, a man child with a high pitched voice that spends a lot of time in his pyjamas, and an owl. It took me six months to figure out who was who. Hoot is the puppet owl. Giggle is the guy. I think.

Giggle is a bit annoying. Hoot is ok. I am not sure about the dancing broccoli.

Sesame Street

My other childhood favourite.

I’m still team Grover, not Elmo.

I don’t understand why other people can now see Snuffleufugus. They never used to be able to.

I love Oscar.

We watch this on days we don’t watch playschool.

Ben and Holly’s little Kingdom

Funny, yes. Tongue in cheek, yes, but becomes must view for the occasional tongue in cheek Thunderbirds references in episodes with “elf rescue”. These little postmodern grabs seem to go over Jman’s head, for some reason.

This week, I’m back to QandA ( political panel discussion), the Book show, and. The news. What a relief. Mostly.

The Monday snapshot: just hanging

The cabin fever is finally ending, the great hand foot & mouth plague of 2013 has left us exhausted and greatly in need of fresh air & socialising.

But we did find some nice moments of sunshine in between the two bouts of
the plague, grandma falling over and breaking her hip, and some other complicating factors we will save for a future post.

There was a LOT of television watched. All my parenting rules broken. A post featuring Children’s tv shows critique to follow soon!!!!!

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