Monday, June 27, 2011

eight is great!

I am a little late in this post, but yes, as you might have guessed, Isobel has hit the eight month mark - in fact she is now eight months one week and some change.

So many things are happening so quickly now that it's hard to keep up both with Isobel and with documenting her progress. All of a sudden her awkward scooting type crawl has become a fully fledged and very purposeful crawl. She can cover great distances as we found out at church the other day. All that carpet and wood in the sanctuary was hers to discover - and she did a great job. I just had to be careful of grumpy old Pearl, the dog, who is very territorial when it comes to the area around the altar. I had to make sure that Isobel did not get too close to her in case she went into attack mode. No, we are not high anything especially church. UCC and common as muck, that's us. Another dog, not Pearl, (she is way too dignified and well trained) has been known to do numbers one and two right by the altar table. The carpet has been changed since then, thank you very much!

But back to Isobel, she is a champion crawler and she  can pull herself up to standing by herself; though she has not mastered it in her new crib,  I am sure it is imminent.  I guess you could say that this  eight month birthday was celebrated with us buying her a brand new crib. This was after a Craig's List fiasco by yours truly that involved a trip to a very bad neighborhood, the exchange of money for a very nasty crib, and the  vigorous cleaning of said crib.  "It'll keep me humble," I muttered under my breath while scrubbing off grease marks all over it ( did they keep it in the kitchen?!)The crib turned out to not go together properly, was flimsy and was relegated to the garbage while I went on line with my tail between the legs and ordered a brand new crib ( on sale, though) in Cappucino.  What coffee lover can resist a crib that's named after a favorite drink? It's actually really lovely, and is meant for "smaller people" ( i.e. my honey who is not tall) so you can bend over to put baby in the crib and not fall in yourself. It is too big for our bedroom, but that's where it is right now - by my side of the bed, looking unwieldy, but very safe. The mattress is supposed to be toxin free and came from Tar.g.e.t. Isobel likes it because it has springs and is fun to jump on. She is still wearing her beeper monitor to bed, and we have yet to re-install the Angelcare monitor under the mattress. I am not sure when I am going to feel comfortable taking them off for good.

We have also bought an umbrella stroller - after much agonizing and researching. It's a Blin.k and on sale at Albee Baby if you are interested. And in transit now. It's for the trip to the UK that we are taking this summer and was prompted by the new ban on strollers over 20lbs checked at the gate by AA, which is what we are flying this summer.

And as Isobel is incredibly restless and insomniac these days we are probably going to be in the market for an amber teething necklace. It seems each month brings its expenses. Although most of her toys have been bought from rummage sales - which is a great place to shop for the older, fun, classic toys that are hard to come by. Of course I only know this because a friend of ours likes to come over and identify these cool old toys we get as something from her childhood. I don't remember any of my childhood toys and as we didn't have any siblings born after us I guess we wouldn't would we?

Another surprise is that Isobel now has FOUR teeth. One of the top ones came through almost as soon as her two bottom ones were in, and then the second top one came in slowly until  now she has a lovely two top and two bottom smile.

She has really got the hang of the whole eating thing now, and I am so glad we are doing baby led weaning and not dealing with spoon feeding her - it's more fun and she really seems to enjoy it. We put her in her high chair and give her a few different foods at a time to try and choose from ( I know, it's a big no no with the allergy people, but it has worked out fine). When she is given the choice of what to eat - i.e. sitting with us on a blanket for a picnic, as we did last week, she will grab just about anything and consider eating it. That blanket ended up covered in guacamole and salad and quesadillas - and so did she.

Some more fun things are Isobel's intensely loud vocalizations which happen when she is eating and sound like growling, or when she is around other people who are talking ( as in church when someone is speaking and everyone else is quiet!) or just whenever she feels like it. She is incredibly gleeful in the noises that she is making and can really get quite loud. Not sure how that's going to go down on the plane to England.

We think she may be going through a growth spurt / more teething as she is not sleeping very well - and is adjusting to her new crib too.  She is also going through another biting phase on my poor boobs. I have a few nasty teeth bites to show for it, which I am helping to heal with breast milk and lanolin. Her naps have become very short - and sometimes I give in and nap with her in our bed, which usually means a longer nap - but not recently. Her longest nap in her new crib has been about 25 minutes!!!! Aargh! And trying to get her to bed at her usual 8pm ish bedtime has been a disaster. She is just hyper and won't go to sleep. Tonight, thankfully, we had been out to the beach ( lots of sand got eaten and was great for crawling!) and then for Ethiopian food, so she was really tired ( and she had only slept about 1/2 an hour in naps all day!) so she got to sleep at 10 pm. That is about an hour earlier than the past few nights. It means that we stay up late so that we can have some down time.

Today a few firsts were: putting her feet in the lake ( 63 degrees and felt heavenly to me, but I think she felt it was cold), crawling on sand, eating spicy food at the Ethiopian Restaurant ( she cried!) and enjoying the Ethiopian bread with less spicy foods. She disproved the theory that once a baby eats sand she will never eat it again! This is her second time eating it! We took her to the  outdoor leisure pool a week ago and that was a first for her - she seemed quite interested in all the other waders and splashers and even though the air temperature was only about 70 degrees she did not seem to mind.

So we are looking forward to more excitement with Isobel as she moves into her ninth month. Time is flying by and we can't quite believe we are here in the summer again and last summer I was big and pregnant and this summer I am not and we have Isobel here.

Here are a few recent photos of our little sweetpea.

Jam Face!

Fun with Feet!

Check out my new crib!

Swingin' with Mama.

Swinging 2.0

What a lovely belly I've got!

Bouncy girl!

Monday, June 13, 2011

un challenge - three bizarre jobs

Firstly, thanks to all of you that responded to my whining by reaching out and leaving a comment. It is calming to know that I am not talking to myself - well I am  - but there are others who are listening. And as Dreams and False Alarms rightly pointed out, the comments mostly go to the ones who really are in deep need of support, which would not be me. I am not in the trenches anymore. For some reason, which I am really unclear about, my blog traffic has shot up in the last few days - could it be that the word "whore" in the blog title  has blessedd me with more readers than I ever dreamed of?!  So thank you, thank you, my good and faithful blog readers, and to all the perverts out there who are reading, you probably won't see the word "whore" much after that last post.

Onto the challenge: I have actually not had many jobs in my life: I was an eternal student / out of work actor and aspiring playwright until around the age of 28, and did not start my first "real" job till I was about that age. I didn't have any after or before school jobs as a teenager,  as I went to boarding school from age 14-18 and it seemed to be difficult and impractical to get a job in the holidays only- as we were away at school most of the year. So I never delivered papers, or did a lot of regular babysitting. Although I did start a little babysitting business one summer, aged 17 with absolutely no experience whatsoever and with the goal of saving up money for contact lenses. It started off as a small white postcard in the post office window advertising  dog-walking and baby-sitting ( both of which I had never done and the former being a big stretch for me as I was deathly afraid of dog poop -see references to OCD in this earlier post- ). That white card brought me an obscene phone caller wanting to know what color knickers I was wearing and wanting to "f..." me,  a slew of desperate parents who were apparently unfazed by my inexperience and a brand new pair of hard  contact lenses, which along with braces on my bottom teeth and a fabulous home made wardrobe, catapulted me into the world of semi glamorous geek instead of completely hopeless geek. Although to be fair, we didn't have geeks - we had trends and plebs, and I was a pleb.

I have yet to find the perfect job, which is both rewarding, well paying and inspiring, and I am going to take a few liberties with the un challenge and tell you about my three most interesting jobs. One of which lasted two days, one a few months and another, a few months.

When I left university after finishing my drama degree, I wanted to stay in Aberystwyth, on the west coast of Wales, where I had studied, but I had no money left, the grant had run out and I needed to find a job. I don't remember where I saw the ad, but I found myself applying for a job as a "trolley dolly" ( I think the job title was train stewardess) which was a glorified ( or maybe unglorified would be more accurate) hostess traveling on British Rail with a heavy trolley of snacks and drinks and serving passengers up and down the aisles the length of the train journey. The glamor came in the form of a uniform that really did make me look like an air hostess. Navy skirt, blazer, white shirt, jaunty red scarf tucked into the shirt at the neck, and a lovely bowler type hat that poised jauntily on the top of my head. Panty hose ( or tights in English) were mandatory and  the kind of shoes were up to you. I had seen many trolley dollies in my time, and many of them wore high heels - often red to offset the scarf - and looked just smashingly fabulous. How they maneuvered those heavy trolleys on and off the trains with no help and a drop of about a foot between the platform and the train in high heels is really beyond me. (The conductors, all male, were not supposed to help us as we didn't work for British Rail, but for a franchise, and if we wanted their help we had to bat our eyelashes and look helpless or pray that they were charitable if our eyelashes were having an off day.)  In my sensible blue highly polished flats it was hard enough. I once had to miss half of my run because I cut my hands pulling the trolley off the train at Shrewsbury. To cut to the chase, it was not such a glamorous job after all, but it did improve my mental arithmetic ( there was no register or "till"), I was the disgusted recipient of at least three episodes of sexual harassment ( including one assault and one "give me a kiss or I won't let you out of my train drivers car, where I invited you for a cup of tea" ) and I learnt everything I needed to know about the job from a wiry Glaswegian who would stop in the corridors  between the train carriages and smoke pot whenever he was on a break. And sometimes when he was not on a break. Not my favorite job, but definitely good for stories and the name itself was worth quite  a lot.
Another job I did while trying to stay in Aberystwyth after graduating with a pretty useless but very rewarding drama degree was being a life model in the art department of the university and in some community centers. It was really pretty well paid  - maybe five pounds an hour in 1991-2, and very relaxing. I would sit on a chaise lounge in a large studio that was partitioned off into the life art class "boudoir" and if it was cold there was an electric bar fire that they would turn on so I wouldn't freeze. On more than one occasion I fell asleep I was so relaxed. Staying in one position for long periods of time is not comfortable at all and involves some skill. Of course no one taught me how to sit without my legs and arms going to sleep, but I gradually figured it out. On breaks, I would put on my fabulous burgundysilky dressing gown that was something like a men's smoking jacket, and go to the break room with the artists and smoke cigarettes. There was something about it that was all quite good for my ego. The problem arose when  I discovered that the caretaker ( janitor) was a habitual  peeping tom and after I complained about him, it became uncomfortable to model as I never felt I could relax, and no one seemed to want to do anything about it.
My last bizarre job was when I came to visit the States in the summer of 1995. And it was rather fun! My friend  L, who lived here, and who I had met in Wales while she was on probably the most miserable Junior Year Abroad anyone could suffer, was big into horses. Trakeners to be precise - can't really remember how to spell that. Anyway, she spent a lot of time engaged in Trakener business, including horse fairs and shows and she persuaded me to come with her to one by getting me a job as an announcer at a dressage show in Indiana. Having an English accent lent me a certain cache - especially in dressage. I had no clue about announcing at a horse show, but I was not alone, because one of the horse aficionado's husbands had also been roped in and we both sat in the announcing booth, being able to see nothing of the dressage, but keeping informed on our walkie talkies by the volunteers at each dressage ring. They would tell us over the air who was waiting to go into the ring, who was in the ring etc and we would announce it. My buddy was a baseball fan and his way of announcing if a horse and rider were waiting to go into the ring was to say that they were "on deck". I just followed his terminology and everyone was happy. I even announced the Queen Mother's birthday over the loudspeakers one day, which really tickled all the Anglophiles. I think I made $300 that weekend plus my accommodation was paid for.  That was probably the most money I had ever made i a weekend! I think my friend was just glad to have the company and she treated me to lots of Taco Bell and Dunkin Donuts as well as the B and B. From there we drove all night to get to my first ever Michigan Women's Music Festival and lesbian intrigue and drama. But that's another story.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Comment whore shipwrecked on a desert island

Twenty three plus of the writers of  blogs on my blog roll, I met on Baby Center around 2007 - 2008. In fact most of those twenty three plus I met in the first year of my trolling around on BBC looking for ideas, support, advice, a clue!  At least one other I met on another Yahoo group. Many  of them are now Facebook friends - in fact I have a lot of FB friends who all "know" each other even though  most of us have never met. We were all in various  stages of TTC from 2007 - 2010. In the early days I commented on people's posts on BBC, I kept track of where every one was in their cycle and made appropriate remarks; I was invested in the people who stuck around and who were there for me. One day I came home from seeing the movie Happy go Lucky at the movies feeling anything but carefree and experimented with setting up a blog out of some kind of dull desperation. I only wrote a small post and would probably have taken my sweet time to come back to it, but An Offering of Love commented on it, and spurred me on to write something more than just a throwaway post.

I have always prided myself on being a caring and careful commenter both on BBC and blogs, as well as FB. On FB, I don't just tell people Happy Birthday, I make it into something fun and witty and make sure that I am saying something that speaks to the person. I do the same on birthday cards. I never just write the same  boring thing ( one of my co-workers would write the same thing on every sympathy card we ever shared - "May God bless you in this difficult time", which to me is almost as bad as not signing a card at all...)

At some point I discovered Melissa's Stirrup Queens blog and LFCA - it took me a lot of Googling before I figured that acronym out.  I  built up readership and followed others blogs by lolly gagging around on others blogs. I picked up blogs carefully - either because someone had commented on my blog, or something clicked with me in someone's writing, or circumstances. Many of the blogs I read are written by lesbian moms, or women dealing with infertility, loss and adoption - the ALI community. There are a couple of outliers that are random things I like - cooking, knitting, free range parenting, etc. Just like many of you,  I would comment on your  posts, ones that struck a chord with me, ones I was led to by other bloggers.  I did ICOMLEAVEWE and  I would scroll down people's blog rolls looking for interesting blogs. In the old days I would write and ask a blogger if I could put their blog on my list, and then I realized that I didn't need to ask because in a public forum, people want you to read them, they want you to advertise their blogs and they want to hear from you. Blogging and reading blogs was probably my most time consuming activity during the years of TTC and waiting and the 9/10 months of pregnancy. My work was so stressful and busy that I rarely got on or blogged at work, which seems to be the chosen place of most bloggers, so that most of my activity happened on the weekends and evenings.

I don't write a journal; I only did that once in high school and I burnt it soon afterwards ( something I really regret).  I didn't like journaling because basically it was like me talking to myself about how miserable I was and how I needed to get a grip. But the thing I like about blogging is the reciprocation. You don't get that with a journal. Especially when you burn it. I don't think I would have continued blogging had it not been for the community and the comments. I received support during hard times and when there was finally good news there was glee, celebration and more support. 

I have never really wrung out my heart and soul on this blog, I don't think. I gave too many people in real life permission to read this blog, which makes me protective of the people in my life that I care about and disinclined to complain about them or to really say what's on my mind about others. So it is pretty self focused. And now it has become Isobel focused.

I never really addressed the change that most people feel acutely of moving from infertile without baby to infertile with baby. I don't think I felt it so acutely as some. I think that deep down I have always believed that it's my own fault for waiting so long to TTC and I am not a real  "infertile" - just a late and lazy one. When I found out I was infertile because of the likely lousy amount and quality of my eggs, I was really upset, mad and pissed off, but I was also relieved because I had an answer after less than  a year of the first T part of TTC. It still took me  over another year to conceive, but there was something concrete about knowing the source of the problem for me. And having always known we were going to use donor sperm, when I fairly quickly came to the realization that I wanted to use donor eggs, it was not a big leap or a huge loss. At that point anyway. I had already come a long way from my fantasy of having a little Tireegal running around the house. And using donor eggs really took the pressure off my body for me.

Most of the original twenty three plus bloggers that I follow / ed have at least one child by now. Not all; I can think of two that stand out in the heartbreak section that do not. And it is so sucky. Most if not all of the other bloggers I picked up along my way in blogland either have a baby or two or are pregnant. Others are pursuing adoption, a few are choosing to be childless. My blog roll is full of busy moms and a few TTCers. My argument as to why I have so few comments on my blog goes like this:
I don't write much anymore. I don't comment as much any more. I post lots of pictures and that is very hard for the still TTCers to deal with. Most of my fellow moms are really busy and therefore would not be commenting as much.  Bloggers new to TTC or battered and bruised through procedures and losses would not be interested in my story and especially those in the depths of despair would not touch me with a barge pole. I have let many juicy life experiences go past without blogging about them. I have still not written Isobel's birth story. Not that it was traumatic, because it wasn't. The pregnancy - I wrote about that and it was stressful and stressmaking. I haven't written about the swings and dips of being a full time mother, about the changes in our lives since S was laid off, of my identity switching from high anxiety social worker to semi-laid back mom who mumbles and doesn't always get the right noun when she is speaking. I haven't really written about motherhood, except in superlatives.  I haven't written about my thoughts about  having a baby with two donors.  Or about having another child. Except I will say that like many of you, I am torn.

I don't know if I told you this before, but I  am a bit of an I-phone addict. I spent many hours when Isobel was an infant with her on my lap or shoulder, reading blogs, looking at email and Facebook. The sad news would endlessly reduce me to tears. And dealing with my post partum depression and paralyzing fear of SIDs meant that I had to stop reading the really hard news. Which made me feel guilty and mean and privileged.

Recently I realized that I was looking at my I-phone way too much and not paying enough attention to Isobel. Even though I spend most of her waking hours with her, and tend to her endlessly, I would sit with her while she played and just obsessively go through email, FB and blogs. Over and over. I realized that my phone was becoming a bit like a  cigarette.  A crutch to stop me feeling my feelings and thinking my thoughts. It was like having constant chatter in my head but nothing that was of substance or meaning. So I cut back and as I did this I realized how dependent  I had become.  Then a couple of weeks ago I decided to stop. To put the phone down - and as I did that I realized how many times in an hour my mind would stray to my phone and the constant stream of information, connection and gratification I was "missing". I felt terrible for not being truly present for Isobel. And also a little worried about all the radiation I might be exposing Isobel to. So  I left the phone out of the bedroom in a similar vein  to banning the tv from there.  Sometimes  I left the phone at home when I went out. Sometimes I simply forgot it. I had a moment of panic when I realized that I had forgotten it, but I got over it. Since that day, I have been down in my usage and  trying to be  much more conscious about my use of the phone and of my presence in real life moments. I don't want life and my beautiful daughter to pass me by while I am scrolling through Facebook. Even spending so much time reading about all your wonderful important lives was impeding my ability to live my real life too.

So while I explain why I need to be away from the Internet more, I am also wondering where you all are. I know that  sounds weird."Er, I haven't been here, where are you?" Classic borderline personality disorder traits. I get visitors to my web site. Quite a few. Not astronomical numbers, but a fair amount.
Maybe people can't figure out who I am. I don't have a bullet pointed story of my TTC life, or any explanation of where the hell Tiree is and why  I am her gal!  Maybe I am too full of good news? That seems odd, I know, but it makes  a certain kind of sense that the people with the good news don't need as much support and those with bad news need more. Yes, I have a  mostly wonderful real life, and yes, I still need reassurance from an external source.

As for my real life, yes it's quiet and quite hum drum. But also spectacular and wonderful taking care of a tiny being  who demands all my attention and delights in so many small light filled moments. She slows me down and speeds me up.  I have made leaps in my real life life. I need company; I don't do well at home alone.  I have mommy friends and baby friends. I see them a couple times a week. I keep them all together by emailing and texting them and setting up walks and play dates and checking in on people. I am kind of the den mother of my meet up group. I go for walks with Isobel, and S and I do stuff together. My sister is an adoring aunt and sees us about once a week. She comes over for a "fix" when she is missing Isobel.  We have friends that come to visit. I wish we all lived in the same part of town. We are all spread out. I enjoy my quiet down time. I mostly watch tv in the evenings. I need to start looking for a job. I have a to do list that I haven't touched in weeks. My daily routine comprises baby care, house care, laundry, wife-tending and when and where I can get my next latte.

And I also feel compelled to keep this blog going, not just for the reciprocation and the pats on the back and the sharing, but to give Isobel some history, for those moments when she might feel that she does not have enough. It's the same reason we take lots of photos and make up albums and write in her baby book, and keep all the information we have about her donors. The whole family tree, now there's another subject for blogging. Will Isobel put my parents and grandparents on her family tree? And S's parents and grandparents? Of course she will. More of that another time. I promise.
And did I tell you how grateful I am for all of you? I am. Thank you.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

non challenge cup in high school ( not!)

( this could be a whole novel and maybe one day I will write it but for the moment, Susan is waiting patiently to watch our latest guilty pleasure from Netflix on demand,  Mistresses, Google it. ) Can one start a sentence with parentheses?
My high school career started badly after a wonderful happy popular friendly time in junior high ( ages 9 - 13 in Britain that was in the 70s). It was like everyone changed over the summer between junior high and senior high. Everyone, dyed their hair, got a boyfriend, got an attitude and I got there completely in the dark and without having read the memo. To be truthful I would have ignored the memo anyway, but I eschewed this peer pressure to do all this weird stuff to ones body and just thought it was plain silly. I was also more notable plagued by a burgeoning case of OCD which meant that I flung all my clothes off when I got home from school, made everyone take off their shoes when they entered the house ( rare in the days before heavy duty hygiene was popular) and was frightened to death of dog shit ( it was everywhere in those days.)
After one year at the local high school we begged our parents to send us to a Quaker boarding school; ( we were brought up Quakers and went to fun summer camps with them, where we had a ball and fantasized about going to a sort of Quaker summer camp all year round). Quaker Boarding School (QBS) in England was not the fantasy we dreamed of. It was peer pressure without the inconvenience of parents' input, it was cliques - the trends and the plebs, and as a new girl in the fourth year with no fancy clothes and a northern English accent you can guess that I wasn't in the in crowd.
I don't have any fun pictures to share with you all right now, but I did have a Linda McCartney shaggy look, as well as  a big fat frizz perm, pigtails and  fifty pence piece glasses and finally contacts.  I was determined to overcome my braces, specs and frizz and I think I did eventually. We ( my twin sister and I) made our own clothes because we couldn't afford the nice fancy ones that the other students wore when they weren't wearing uniform. We never understood algebra because we arrived half way through that lesson and no one explained it to us properly. Thank-fully we excelled academically, learnt to play tennis ( you were nobody if you couldn't play tennis) on beautiful grass courts and got good grades. We finally acclimatized to the place and did our best to enjoy ourselves. I did win a cup, ( the "dwama" cup for being an excellent "dwama" person, directing plays and acting in them, and overcoming my horrid accent ( sic) to become the chosen reader at any big event with my lovely posh accent and darling delivery). And my twin sister won three of the other top honors. So there, snobs!

May: Yellow

Hard to find yellow among all the pink, but this includes Isobel's favorite musical toy, Charlie Brown, and her IRL friend Oscar's Pooh hat which she borrowed for swinging with him on a sunny day. The lights have something to do with coffee. Answers on a comment-card!