Monday, April 25, 2011

The baby Oscars - or happy go lucky meets her name-sake

I am feeling incredibly productive at the moment. It all started with Isobel sleeping since 8pm tonight and also with a very very good day with Isobel, Susan, and other baby mamas. I guess it started with me getting up at 8.30am which is our new wake up time. I know, I know! I am making you all sick. I get it. Somehow, I believe, Isobel has internalized my body clock rhythms and even though she is not genetically related to me, biologically she very much is. Don't get me wrong, 8.30am is not my chosen pre-baby, post-employment, baby wake up time. In fact it's more like 10.30, but 8.30 will do very nicely thank you. I am actually enjoying getting to see parts of the day that I have not been familiar with since I stopped walking our dogs ( now deceased) and also stopped working due to stress/ depression / crazy pregnancy hormones. Mornings have been my least favorite time of day for a long time. It takes me forever to feel happy about being up and I just would rather stay in bed and wallow in my milky sweaty self. Even the sight of jolly Isobel smiling and making eyes at me is not always enough to make me jump out of bed and shout Hallelujah! But I do begrudgingly give her smiles and cutches and kisses and snuggles and lots of milk and eventually I am happy to be up and about being domesticated, taking care of diaper business and dressing  and all that fun stuff. And if I get my oatmeal and my tandem cups of Rooibos tea and decaf coffee, then the day is even better! Some days I get to stay in bed for about half an hour and Susan will get up with Isobel and I will hear them playing together in the next room, with Isobel chuntering away and Susan laughing and telling her stories and singing songs. That is a real luxury, because it feels like I never get to be alone in bed anymore. In fact the last time I was alone in bed, was the night before Isobel was born, when I was sleeping alone in the spare bedroom, snoring my head off like  a steam train and wondering if my ankles would ever be winsome again!!! That wasn't so much fun.
Two month's after Isobel was born, we did a cute Christmas card with Isobel's stats on it and sent it out and thought that might be instead of the announcement. We had announced it all on Facebook and by email and we weren't sure that we needed an announcement. But that meant our Jewish friends didn't get a nod, and we decided that for posterity we needed to do a card. So about a month ago we made an announcement with four chronological pictures of Isobel where she goes from infant baby blob to smiling 5 month old. It was posted on my blog for about a minute by Susan until I realized all our info was in it and though I am not really extremely careful about anonymity, if someone ( say an old client who shall remain nameless) did a search on the internet for my name she might come upon my blog. Or something.
Well this morning the nurse from the fertility clinic called because she had not heard from me and needed the stats on our baby for her records. In fact she didn't even know the sex of the baby. We had not been in touch with them since we were graduated from them to an OB. Although we did email the doc when we were concerned about my past fibroid surgery and the impact it might have on trying for a vaginal birth. I know, we are not really the kinds of people who do all the right etiquette things, we didn't send them flowers or thank you cards, we didn't buy candy for the nurses at the hospital, and we actually only just got around to sending the wonderful amazing egg donor a thank you card, for the cycle that she completed in December 2009. Wow that  is  a long time ago!
I lied and told her that I had a card already addressed to her on my desk ( why, TG, why?) but she didn't seem too bothered and she was just glad that I called her back and that we had a lovely baby girl and I could tell her what she weighed and when she was born.  She did tell us to come in and show off our baby soon, which I promised to do.
So that gave me the kick start I needed to finally put pen to paper and write and address the birth announcements doubling as Thank You cards tonight when Isobel went to sleep. It has taken me over an hour to do the  cards to the professionals  who were involved in the conception and birth of Isobel.
And that's what made me think I was part of the baby Oscars - thanking all these people and almost choking up, and the words flowing and the warmth in my heart radiating.
In all I wrote 8 cards to a combination of 1 fertility doctor, 1 fertility nurse, 1 adoption lawyer, 1 egg donor agreement lawyer, 1 nurse egg donor coordinator, 1 egg donation agency, 2 midwives, 3 OBs, two OB nurses. Oh and I forgot to add the psychologist who did our interview about third party reproduction, who happens to know a family friend of ours, which turned the interview into a kind of reunion by proxy.  That makes 9 cards. Must send her an announcement. All these people helped us to bring Isobel into the world. And funnily enough it just makes my heart sing a bit louder to know that so many people helped us. It doesn't feel the slightest bit odd to me. Not the usual way of making a baby, certainly, but that's fine with me. I didn't send them a card but I mustn't forget the two egg donors who had to bow out through ill health at the last minute, prolonging our wait for egg donor number 3, who turned out to be perfect!
As I was writing the cards, I would describe, Isobel, as beautiful, funny, lively, cute and - here's a thing -  happy-go-lucky. Those three words just kept tripping off my fingertips. I told Susan about it, who reminded me that Isobel is also incredibly passionate about things - and as she discovers things that she loves, such as splashing her arms and legs in a frenzy in the bath - she also lets us know this - either by her squeals of joy and big smile when she is in said tub, or by her  angry wailing when she is out of the tub and Susan is dressing her while I have five minutes in the bath by myself.
And as I was writing the words over and over so many times, I realized that Isobel could be the happy go lucky that I have been summoning into our lives by naming my blog happy go lucky. What a circle we have navigated to get to this point. Not so much a circle as a very meandering path that is kind of S shaped. And before I get tangled up in that metaphor I will take my leave and rest my Ergo- induced aching back and rejoice that Isobel is still asleep, 3.5 hours after I put her down, which is good for her, and good for her mama.  Before you hate me for all this Pollyanna stuff, please remember that it took me a long time to get here. And I got sea sick on the way. Okay, this is really the end of metaphor butchering. For tonight...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

half a year of Isobel!

Yes, our daughter, Isobel is six month's old today. It amazes me. It seems as if we have been her mums for a long time and also  for a few seconds.
As I have been a lax blogger I will tell you what Isobel is doing right now and you can fill in the gaps ( or I will).
We have a daughter who sleeps. It is a miracle and a work in progress. I never ever understood why moms went on and on about sleep and naps so much. Honestly, I thought they were just obsessed. I would read people's endless Facebook updates about it and think I would never be like that. I am. Just.Like. That.
It all started when Isobel stopped doing that newborn thing of falling asleep whenever. We could be anywhere and she would nod off. Usually she was resting on a warm person when it happened. She did not much like to sleep away from a warm body but she did eventually get used to her co sleeper crib. I think it happened about 3.5 months that I became aware that she would get crabby and she would be wide awake and it eventually occurred to me that she might be tired and might need help getting to sleep. I won't bore you all with the details, but we read bits of the No Cry Sleep Solution, we instituted a more obvious bedtime routine involving a bath and bedtime music really, and we started putting her down for naps when we thought she was tired. It took many times of getting up and soothing her and putting her down again but as I write this, she is asleep in our bedroom ( in our bed, but that's another story!) and we are sitting around like grown ups. She naps twice a day - we do the 2 ,3, 4 thing to a certain extent - first nap 2 hours after waking, second one three after waking from the first nap, bedtime four hours after waking from the second one. More or less. I put her to sleep, make no mistake. I do not let her cry, or leave her until she is asleep. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes 30, but I have the luxury of being able to put the time in and I actually enjoy it. One of these days she will put herself to sleep but for now I am okay with how things are.
In non sleep related news, Isobel is rolling over, rocking and rolling on our laps, standing when we hold her up, trying very hard to crawl, but not getting very far. When she is on the floor she moves her body all around in a circle from her hips but does not go forward or backward. She is endlessly engaged with new people and things and smiles at just about everybody, and makes even grumpy people smile. She can sit up for about 30 seconds by herself and she loves to be upright with whatever help we give her. In the bath tub she splashes like mad and smiles and gets herself all riled up. She loves chewing on Sophie and her raspberry teether. In the mornings she and Susan sit on the couch and Susan spills her toy box out in front of her so she can pick what she is interested in. She likes to blow raspberries on our shoulders and tummies and we love to blow raspberries on her feet.  She is so happy in the mornings when she wakes up, a time that I am not usually very excited about anything but it's too hard not to respond to her giggles and smiles.

I leave you with some pictures of our dear sweet precious Isobel. Happy half birthday, Isobel!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Working nine to five what a way to make a living...( with thanks to Dolly Parton)

Today I handed in my keys at work, signed off on my travel expenses, finished some billing, and walked away. It has actually been seven months since I left my job in a pile of tears and snot and anxiety and I feel so much better now than I did then. Understatement. True story.

One of the reasons I don't blog much these days is that I don't have much alone time but  right now Isobel is asleep!!!! and I have had a late dinner of soup and cheese on toast ( my staple comfort food), the news is on on mute and  I am finally writing. The other reason is that I am a rusty writer as well as a bit of a perfectionist, so I reason that if I can't say it well I don't want to say it at all. There's not a lot of valid reasoning there, I know. But I do have a lot to say, and unusually for me, I now have the time to think about things other than work. So here goes. Hopefully there will be lots more blogging going on, now that Isobel has a bed time and sometimes sticks to it!

So I drove into work today at around the time I used to. I set off at 8.56 and got to work around 9.15am. I have dropped by work a couple of times since I quit, but today felt different. I dressed "up". That means I put on my best jeans ( which were wrinkled but clean), my staple black t-shirt and  dark blue swing cardigan that I got for my pregnancy and live in these days, my blue and black cotton scarf  ( see  a theme here?), my black fitted raincoat and my black heeled boots. Isobel managed to spit up on my jeans before I got out the door but I didn't care. Oh, and I showered of course. I felt as if I had to dress to impress, ( and yes, that's how I do it - not exactly high end, but my way) and put on a bit of armor. If I had been smoking I would have ditched the Marlborough Light 100s for the  harsher stubby reds.
While I was in the shower I was thinking about going to work, who would be there, the task at hand      ( involving some undone paperwork I was helping them with because until today, they had no-one in my position) and  how long it would take. I estimated about three hours and wondered if I could leave Isobel that long with Susan before she got cranky. I had got up and pumped a good five ounces for her so I was feeling good about that and hoping that Susan would not have to break into my very measly stash of frozen milk.  As I drove to work along this so familiar route, I remembered many of the feelings I used to have over the past 3 and a half years as I made my way to work. (I also realized how lucky I am that this is the first morning I have gone to "work" and left Isobel behind me, since giving birth to her). One of the biggest feelings was dread. Dread that a crisis had unfolded, that things would be difficult, that someone would yell at me, that I would not be able to handle everything. Who am I kidding? For about 15 years I have worked in the areas of homelessness, domestic violence and mental illness social work. Of course I am going to have to deal with crises, people yelling and the unknown. But looking back I realize how frayed I was. How fragile. How worried about everything. Even though I put on a very brave and professional face and did a flipping fantastic job!

They were all gathering for a staff meeting and before that a short meeting of the clinical team that I used to lead. People were looking harried. I walked into the clinical staff meeting as it ended to say hello and to ask a billing question - and met my successor sitting in the chair I once sat in. I knew that she would be there today, but no-one else knew that I knew, so they all looked a bit startled - as if to say - ooops, we cheated on you, Claire, we got someone else. But I know and like my successor and I had given her some encouragement and suggestions as she went through the  interview process, so I was not uncomfortable at all. One of the staff, said, hi Claire, have you met the  new director,  and she said, yes, we have met before. It was under-stated and perfect. I didn't make a big production, just got my question answered and went back to my work. There were a few moments when one of the staff was short and not very welcoming with me and I commented to another staff that it felt very weird. She told me about some little dramas happening in the team and how that's probably what was going on and of course it was nothing about me.
They all went to their big meeting and I looked at the task at hand and realized it would take me ten minutes. Fantastic. Just a few dozen clicks on the mouse and I was done. I called Susan and told her I was going to run a couple of luxurious errands, buy a celebratory latte and mocha for us, and come home. She gave me a report on Isobel, who was chuntering away and ready for her bottle of milk. I felt so happy and fulfilled and relieved.
I looked around the office, noted the changes that had been made, and patted myself on the back for a job well done. As I was driving away, I realized that I really was done with that place and that job. I had been waiting for them to throw me a send off party - a modest lunch or something like that, and months ago I had thought how I really needed them to tell me what a great job I had done, how they would miss me, and that they wished me well. It had never happened, and I realized I didn't need it anymore. When I got home  to my cute sweet little family that means so much to me, I was so happy and relaxed and RELIEVED! So glad to be home. I wrote my ex boss a nice email entitled "over and out" and told her not to bother about any party - which seemed a little redundant as it was obvious she had not bothered. I left the door open for "consulting" work at an hourly / daily rate and bid her farewell. 
I don't know how long this stay at home mum gig is going to last. I know it won't be for much more than a few more months. Right now, Isobel has two stay at home mums. Susan got fired / retired / conspired against about 10 days ago - the day after we got back from Kansas City, visiting Isobel's maternal ( ha ha ha ) grandmother.  Susan's mom. Only living grandparent and a first time one at the grand old age of 83. The firing / retiring / conspiring was not a surprise in some ways but the timing was. Susan had been working full time,  commuting two hours plus a day, doing an internship on nights and weekends and taking two classes in the evenings. She is older than me and has a number of health challenges and despite that had managed somehow to keep going. But she was completely exhausted and depleted.  It turned out that she got some severance which will keep us going till the summer. It was more than anything a huge relief for her and for me too. We both have just been sucking it up and trying to muscle our way through. She emailed me from class last night to say that for the first time she was awake in class, participating and had done the reading and knew what the conversation was about. This is a woman who has had one B since she started school three years ago. The rest were As. Amazing. But taking a huge toll on her. My goal is for her not to work full time until she graduates next May. This means that I will be looking for a full time job for the fall. Not one where my number one sentiment is dread. Please not that. I think, I hope, knowing that I am good, even though I had the type of job that was a thankless task and yielded few pats on the back or congratulations, will help me to be more happy go lucky in my next job. I never want to feel that terror, those breathless, churning, endless ruminations about the what ifs, what coulds, what the fucks.
If we did not have so much debt, I am convinced we could live simply and not work too much at all. We still have to work out the details. But for now, we are enjoying saying hello to each other, loving each others company and delighting in Isobel. And sharing all the loads. It is amazing.