Hands up, I’m the worst sort of blogger. But I got landed with a mahoosive bid at work which finishes this week (started back last year and in earnest over Christmas) so work has been busier and life just sort of took over. Almost every day I think, I must blog that! But I sort of got out of the habit. Anyway, here we are!
I’m currently standing in the disabled bathroom at work with a double pump attached to my boobs, pumping… #oohtheglamour – yes, we made it to a year! Apparently this is some kind of badge moment in breastfeeding and “lactivist” communities but I don’t know because I stopped frequenting them when they started pushing adoptive breastfeeding. (Many adoptees in our communities find it problematic. I appreciate that isn’t the usual narrative – more on that later.)
Our breastfeeding journey has been pretty enjoyable so far, although I’m not sure I will really miss pumping. We have discussed it and decided we will go for natural term weaning probably unless anything else happens… This means letting B decide when he no longer wants milk. Right now he still has expressed milk at nursery but he also has water and food, so in time he’ll probably move to just breastfeeding when we’re together / mornings and evenings and at some point I guess he’ll decide he doesn’t want it any more.
We spent B’s birthday in foreign climes when I was off on my conference for work. It was fun in a way although I missed most of his birthday which was also a bit sad. I’m glad they could be with me (T and B) and it was nice for them to spend daddy and son time, but I guess I thought we’d spend it together as a family. We had a nice (extortionate!) dinner in the hotel after hours and B got a cake from the staff so I think he was happy!
We also had B’s first birthday party at home. It was a small affair… Just family (not my sister as I’ve given up asking her to travel as I know the answer will be no!) and a couple of local friends. The boys enjoyed playing in the ball pit. I made a cake. It went horribly wrong and I decided to de-ice it and redo it on the morning of the party – but I guess it went along with the tradition of crappy homemade birthday cakes!
A couple of weeks later, our keen stander decided to start walking! I’m not sure really what you actually count as walking but he’s definitely doing it now. T and I decided that it had to be five consecutive steps (not sure how we decided that – he’d been doing two for ages but it didn’t seem like proper walking) so that happened a bit before he was 13 months. It’s all a bit odd really. He looks like a little drunk when he walks!
Happily it seems that in the whole scheme of things, B seems decidedly average. Now of course personally I think he’s the cutest baby in the world, but I’m happy he’s neither an underperformer or an overperformer. There seems to be a culture amongst some mums to want their baby to be super advanced and I don’t get that. I don’t want to wish his babyhood away! (And I don’t want to hold onto it either – the new things he learns every day are so much fun.)
I suppose it comes back to what I call Post Infertility. Most mums I know didn’t go through infertility to have a baby. They just decided to have one and whoosh! They were pregnant.
I spent years hoping and thinking I couldn’t have a baby. I still find myself insanely grateful for the chance to be B’s mother. I relish every moment of it (even in some weird way, the tiredness and the waking up in the middle of the night because I think: I might never have had this! Although it is hard sometimes!)… I don’t take it for granted but I’m also generally infused with such a joy about it that it feels churlish not to let it soak in: I’m a mother.
I’m not the mother I ever thought I’d be. I was no nonsense. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the first year as much as I have. I thought the toddler years would be the best. But really what I’m understanding is that it’s all the best. I find myself worrying (mildly, not anxiety like) that I could lose it… and that makes me determined to enjoy it even more (whilst also wishing I could wrap him up in cotton wool and keep him safe forever).
As an adoptee it still feels weird to have someone who is related to me by blood. I find it weird to think I actually grew him. But I did! And he’s his own little person with his own personality… and yet I can see aspects of me (mainly my stubbornness!) in him. It’s funny and wonderful and poignant and magical all at the same time.
I think I’ve just started my period. It’ll be the first one since we started IVF cycle 2 – the one that resulted in baby B. I think we started in April 2016! Strange to think I haven’t had one since then!
I was sort of hoping I could hold off the periods indefinitely as I’m still breastfeeding B. He’s just under a year old now. I feel strangely emotional as I was hoping I could at least make it to his first birthday without having one, but I guess it wasn’t to be. It’s especially strange as today’s his first day back at nursery after the Christmas break, and I have been breastfeeding him more than usual (as he’s often away from me during the day), so I didn’t really expect to get a period now.
Agh. I hope it isn’t a period. But I think it might be.
For many years all through infertility and then loss, blood was a sign that my body wasn’t doing stuff right, wasn’t getting pregnant and wasn’t remaining pregnant.
I had really bad periods with endometriosis and fibroids. Could knock me out for days.
I don’t feel like that now but I do feel really run down because of flu – which I managed to get on Christmas Day and am still in recovery.
Have breastfed through it all. The one thing that’s gone right is our breastfeeding journey. I’m even hoping to make it to two years unless B wants to wean in between time!
Anyway, there you have it… The end of an era!
Confession time. Sometimes I can be a real bitch. That’s over a decade of infertility for you! Sometimes I feel the old jealous, mean feelings coming back.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while and it’s probably just going to sound like a massive whine. But I keep meaning to blog more, for good and for bad, so here goes.
We are having a small naming ceremony at home for B. In our new flat! It’s going to be mainly home made stuff and a small group of friends and family and hopefully will be really lovely, but I don’t want to write about it too much on here because it’s a nice thing and this venting is not, so I’ll write it up separately.
The reason I want to vent is because I just feel hurt that it’s very likely none of my siblings will be attending. Now they all have reasons, some of which are better than others in my opinion, and I know this is all mumzilla and B won’t give a flying poop about any of it, but to me it’s about something deeper, which is the fact that I never thought I’d get to have a baby and it’s a special occasion I want to mark and none of my siblings can be arsed to attend.
This is unfair of me of course and that’s why I’m venting on here. But I’m finding it hard not to feel salty about it. Well mainly about my sister.
One of my siblings can’t attend because of living in a different country that’s very far away… Efforts were made but it isn’t going to happen, sadly. But they (sibling plus partner) are going to record a reading and try and FaceTime in to the ceremony, so at least they’re making an effort.
My brother who lives not that far away is probably not going to be able to make it with his family because of my niece’s (medical/developmental) problems. I get that it’s hard. I can’t imagine how hard it is. (Although she’s been fine when we have seen her sporadically including a few weeks ago when we went out for a family gathering – it was closer to their home though.) They seem to not want to take her out anywhere. Again. I get it. But they can go out for things they want to go out for. Just not for me/us.
I know it’s not quid pro quo but I went to her christening around what would have been my due date for PB (my first pregnancy, after IVF, that ended in miscarriage). I didn’t want to go but I sucked it up and even though I felt crappy about it, I turned up.
I probably would feel madder with my brother but ever since they identified my niece’s health problems I’ve felt all my jealousy for his perfect life dissipate. But my sister in law didn’t come to my baby shower and nor did my sister. In fact none of my family came.
My sister has point blank refused to come. My new niece was born a month ago and she says it’s too far to travel. I’m sure she has a point. It’s about a 3hr drive between us. She says that the car seat manufacturers say the baby can’t be in a car seat for more than two hours at a time and I’m like… Haven’t you heard of rest stops?! It’s not like she would be driving anyway – I always sit in the back with B and T drives us, and we have driven way longer than that and B is perfectly fine. But she’s very highly strung and she won’t hear any of it and anyway she’s really stressed about feeding and whatever and sticks to some convoluted schedule that apparently she can’t deviate from by a minute.
I also felt during my pregnancy that I couldn’t really be happy because my sister then was going through IVF (a frozen transfer not a fresh cycle) and she was completely nuts about it so I wasn’t able to celebrate it. I always have to mute my feelings for hers because she’s so prone to anxiety and depression and I’m always the one talking her down from the ledge.
She’s super demanding as well, even when it’s not convenient for us. She insisted she wanted the Sleepyhead (cot cushion) and I could have sold it locally for £70 as they hold their value (cost new £110), but instead I walked to the post office in the rain and queued up for ages so that she could have it on next day delivery because she needed it right that minute and kept asking me to send it straight away. Bearing in mind I was doing her a favour and saved them £110 and lost myself the resale value of £70! And it cost me a decent amount to send!
The thing that really upset me on top of the naming ceremony non attendance was that she’d said when she was pregnant that she wanted the electric rocker… It cost around £150 new and so rather than selling it when B was done with it, we had it in the tiny living room of our tiny flat for the past four months. Like you don’t really get how small our flat is… The frame took up half the sofa and the rocker was balanced on piles of boxes because we had to move it around when we wanted to move around! So I was pretty p*ssed off when she sent a picture of the niece in a new rocker they’d just bought. (Same make but cheaper model than the one that has taken up our living room for four months.)
When I said about the rocker she had asked us to save for them she said she “forgot, sorry.” Yeah that is fine… I mean we’ve been tripping over the damn thing for four months but whatever.
Man, I was so annoyed. I’m sure that this was just the straw that broke the camel’s back and this is just showing what a horrible person I am. I’m also really annoyed with her because all she does is complain and find things hard when she didn’t have to go through a fresh cycle of IVF (though made sure we all felt her pain), has had an uneventful pregnancy, a healthy baby and she gets to take over a year off work when I had to go back after four months. Not to mention their huge house they just bought. (Our dream house is a two bedroom apartment. Theirs is a five bedroom house!) She’s just a Class A whiner.
So I get that I’m being unreasonable, I really do, but I can’t help feeling upset about this. She had previously asked us to reschedule the naming from July or August to September so she would be able to come but then decided she didn’t want to.
I guess… I know I would have gone if it had been the other way round. I know that babies can travel. And B has always been a pretty easy baby. So I don’t have a full understanding of what it’s like to be hating motherhood or whatever because I don’t get why you’d go through everything we’ve been through if you didn’t want it. They didn’t even have half the problems we had! I know it’s not the pain Olympics but jeez.
I also know I’m feeling annoyed because we have a history (as with all relationships) and she’s always the looked after one, and I’m always the one who has to be looking out for her and making sure she’s okay, and just for one day I wanted to celebrate something good that means a lot to me. (Which of course we will still do.)
She’s having a lot harder time with motherhood and probably prone to post natal depression and of course I’m expecting too much. I’ve just spent my whole life with her being the vulnerable one, and the one who needs looking after and building up, and it feels kind of crappy that the one day where we have to celebrate B and the happiest thing in my life, none of my siblings will be there.
I also know that when it comes round to her daughter being christened or whatever that we will all have to go. I haven’t even been to see them yet as she’s weird about people visiting – didn’t want anyone to come when she was born, and said she only wanted a visit for like an hour, which is kind of a crazy expectation on a six hour round trip. Now apparently she’s ready for a visit, we are busy every weekend in September and anyway I feel annoyed about the naming and I don’t feel like seeing them until that has passed and I have it out of my system.
I keep telling myself to suck it up and stop feeling annoyed but I can’t help it. I feel super resentful. I also know rationally that I’ll have a better time without her there, because she’s super high maintenance and usually has a miserable face on her and would want to leave early and whatever.
I also know she’s trying to make up for it but its just ridiculous. Like she sent me £40 vouchers for cheese because I love cheese and I was annoyed about the rocker but firstly what am I going to do with £40 of cheese and secondly the cost of the rocker and the sleepyhead was a lot more than £40. I know she’s trying but I just want her to leave me alone until the naming is over and I’ve had a few weeks to get over it.
I think I’m just sick of being the okay one, the strong one, and I want someone to acknowledge how f*cking hard this has been and what an amazing thing it is that I’m a mother.
Most of the time I’m fine at concentrating on that and not concentrating on the sibling stuff.
So there you have it. I’m not all sweetness and light. I feel pretty bad for having these feelings. I know most people sympathise with her rather than me because people have been feeling sorry for her all our lives because she’s the one who doesn’t cope with things and I always do. I’ve always been the okay one and she’s always been the fragile one. And I know this is a total foot stamping moment on my part and I’m not proud of it.
You can’t pick your family unless you adopt them (ha!) so I am just venting… In a few weeks I’ll be fine, and anyway I want to concentrate on making a really nice day to celebrate B and if my siblings aren’t there then whatever; my friends will be. My aunt and uncle even changed their plans to come from up north (further away than my sister) so that’s nice. And our best friends will be there who know how much this means to us.
Today a friend of mine posted an ultrasound picture on Facebook and gaily announced to the world that their baby would be born next February.
I already knew she was pregnant because I was one of the first people she told. We’d discussed pregnancy and whether she should start trying, and how she was going to persuade her boyfriend to try, and figuring out ovulation and so on. I told her about our experience and encouraged her to come off the pill and try sooner rather than later, if she could get her boyfriend to agree.
I guess he agreed because a few short months later, they’re pregnant. I was kind of surprised by how little time it took, because in infertility-land you get used to talking in years rather than months. She told me how many months it took: three.
Three months! Straight off the pill and up the duff!
Now, I am okay, but a couple of years ago this would have floored me. Why is it always someone else who just has to come off the pill a couple of months and get pregnant?!
I really do feel happy and thankful for my life now. I feel (secularly!) blessed. But I have to confess I had a slight twinge of… something… when she told me she was pregnant. I don’t know what it is… It’s a sort of wistful, “Oh, to be that innocent!” The way they posted it all over Facebook without any worries they might lose the baby. The way they got pregnant so easily having barely tried. I guess I just feel wistful that I never got to have that innocence and that straightforward expectation that nothing would go wrong, that we’d just try and it would happen.
My infertility was measured more in decades. One and a half, more or less.
What do you call yourself when you were previously infertile but by some (secular) miracles and scientific interventions you managed to have a baby?
I’m a mother. But I’m not a normal mother. I’m a pinch-myself-daily-because-I-can’t-believe-I-actually-had-a-baby mother. I’m a Thank You Science mother. I’m a “If you think you might have issues getting pregnant you really should try straight away and let me know if you want to know anything about endometriosis, IVF or immune therapy” mother.
I’ll never have that whole will we, won’t we have another one dilemma. We are over the moon with our lovely One and Only.
I’ll never innocently post early scans on Facebook for people to guess whether it’s a boy or a girl or who the baby looks like. Nobody knew about our pregnancy who didn’t see me in real life. There are still people who don’t know!
I had a twinge of something, a remembrance of loss of innocence, and I’m happy for my friends and I’m happy for us because we are so lucky to have B, but I had a twinge because I remember what it was like to be there, and I’m thinking of all of the people still in the trenches, or those who have had to walk away from the dream of being parents… and I’m sad for them.
So – mothers after infertility. Mothers after loss. I don’t think infertility ever leaves you. I don’t think loss ever leaves you. But we know desperately how lucky we are.
…sometimes I can’t find the words. And Facebook is such an instant kind of interaction whereas blogging has some sort of responsibility associated with it, to have a subject or theme rather than just stream of consciousness rambling… (although anyone who’s followed my blog for a while will be used to that!).
I guess it’s a bit hard to think of pithy subjects for blog posts when there’s such a lot going on in the world. And I have a lot of other outlets for discussing that, and others have done it far more justice than I ever could, so I’ll just say I’m saddened and kind of scared with what’s going on right now. It makes me wonder if one day in future we will look back on these days and think they were peace time. I hope that isn’t the case.
We all have a responsibility to speak out. As a transracial adoptee I feel my “foreignness” more than most people, and I’m astounded and saddened by what is happening in America now.
B turned seven months old! I can’t believe my baby is over half a year old. It’s gone by so quickly. I’m sure this happens to every parent but I feel like this time I’m sort of at peak love with him. Although probably next month I’ll think I love him even more. He’s at a great age now where he gives a fair amount of feedback, smiling and giggling, and he’s almost confident at sitting up (only falling over occasionally and slowly) and trying to crawl (but only succeeding in moving backwards, generally under the sofa). He’s tried food but doesn’t like it much. Which means: We’ve now reached seven months of breastfeeding!
One of my biggest surprises about this entire journey is how much I’ve enjoyed breastfeeding. I started out thinking I’d probably end up doing formula, because my body manages to cock up everything else, but for some reason I seem to be made to nurse my baby.
It’s an amazing feeling to think that my milk has nourished him to seven months. And he’s really pretty healthy. He’s quite big for his age – we know other babies who are a few months older and he doesn’t look significantly smaller. And aside from the occasional snotty nose and nursery bug, he’s been really well.
Also as an adoptee who wasn’t breastfed, I feel that it’s a very healing thing to be able to nurse my own biological baby. That’s not to say I wish I’d been breastfed. I really find that difficult as a concept from an adoption standpoint. We have had many discussions about it in adoption groups – suffice to say that pretty much all the adoptees were against it and all the people supporting it were adoptive parents. It’s a very emotive subject for adoptees and led to me deciding to leave my local LLL group. (I really support breastfeeding but adoptive breastfeeding is something else. I understand different people have different views and I can only speak for mine as an adult transracial adoptee, that it is deeply taboo in our community.) It’s a shame as we have had such a good breastfeeding experience and I was thinking of becoming a peer supporter. But still – we are still enjoying it and will probably end up doing the extended breastfeeding unless he decides to wean himself earlier! I’m not particularly worried as I guess most 15 year olds aren’t into it!
We are starting to wean B, but we are a bit lacksadaisical about it. We wanted to do baby led weaning, but he really isn’t very interested in food, so we’ve ended up doing some mush as well. I have to say I’m grossed out by mush. Especially banana. I hate bananas but it turns out babies love them. B doesn’t seem averse although he never voluntarily goes for food. He’ll eat mush offered to him on a spoon but stuff in his hand he just waves around. Apart from the baby chocolate biscuit. He’s clearly a man after my own heart.
We decided to hold a naming ceremony. I guess really we would have had a christening but neither of us is religious and so it felt like it would be a bit hypocritical. We wanted to mark B’s entrance to the world somehow… I guess it’s a natural inclination to want some sort of significance to it. Anyway I was going to do it myself and then thought about it and how I’d probably turn to mush and start crying, so I found a humanist celebrant who’s going to do it. Quite excited as we’ve been to humanist weddings in the past and they are really nice and personal. Anyway will have to write more about that on another post!
We are finally completing on our new house! Wow, it’s been an insanely long wait. We first made an offer that was accepted back in April. It’s been a bit frustrating – like what are they actually doing? – but feels amazing to think we will get our dream home this week! I actually feel a little sad for our lovely tiny current flat, but we are keeping it and hope to rent it out. I would love for us to keep it for B so he has some security for when he’s older, but we shall see. The new place isn’t actually a house but another flat very nearby – it’s just that it has a terrace so we will have some outside space, and it has two bedrooms so B can have one of his own! And a slightly bigger living room so he can actually learn to crawl! So exciting. It’s funny when I see people’s homes outside London and they are massive! We have low expectations for space here! I absolutely love London though and can’t really see us moving until much much later. Maybe when we retire to Disney World!
We have booked B’s first Disney trip! Before I was pregnant we went to Disneyland Paris each year during the Christmas season, and last year was the first time we missed it as I was heavily pregnant at Christmas. We decided because we both have our “big” birthdays this year (don’t mention it!) and it’ll be B’s first Christmas that we would go all out. We always go past the Disneyland hotel and sometimes even pop in for a drink or dinner. Well we have booked a posh room there with a park view! So excited. Now to find some good outfits for B…!
Stuff is actually going okay at work. The funny thing is, I made a decision to try and get on with The Woman (my new manager) and actually we’ve been getting on really well. She went on holiday and left me in charge of a piece of work and I caned it (up till 3am one night finishing it!) so I think she appreciated that I was pretty good even though I’m working from home most of the time. So although it’s hard work, I do tend to enjoy working hard periodically. I like that I have other days when I have hardly anything! Anyway it’s sort of nice to be able to take pride in my work!
My sister had her baby! I now have another niece. She was absolutely tiny weeny (a bit over 6lbs) and she’s super skinny… I don’t think B was ever that tiny! She ended up having a really similar experience to mine – ending in an unplanned caesarean. On the flip side she doesn’t really seem super happy about it – I think it has all gotten on top of her. I may have mentioned before she is quite highly strung… So I think the whole thing has traumatised her. I’m hoping that it’s going to pass and she won’t end up having postnatal depression – although I can see it happening. Luckily baby is fine and hopefully with a period of adjustment my sister will get into the swing of things.
I was finally a bridesmaid! They do say, “Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride!” So I kind of thought seeing as I’ve been a bride, maybe never a bridesmaid. Anyway it was such a fun day. Our bridesmaid crew was just the three of us and it was a great experience. I mean really all you have to do is turn up and have your hair and makeup done and wear a dress. It was kind of great. I even managed to nurse in the bridesmaid dress although it was a bit of a “wap ’em out” situation. Also I almost gave people an eyeful during the ceilidh dancing when the boob tube part of the dress came fully down! Fortunately I had some fabric over my boobs but there is no time during Strip the Willow (energetic Scottish country dancing, lots of spinning) to correct it. Ha! It was wonderful to see my friend so happy and to get married to the perfect guy for her. (I take full credit for persuading her to do internet dating!)
I think that’s about up to date with the news. Oh aside from the fact that I woke up today with what feels like horrendous whiplash. How did that happen?! Who knows. I’ve barely been able to move my head all day. I’m in agony. I’ve been taking painkillers in between pumping and feeding (as B is at nursery I have a safe-ish gap) but I am in massive pain. I don’t know how to do make it go away. I have a feeling it’s from side sleeping (co sleeping and feeding during the night) as I tend to get a sore back, but usually that’s manageable lower back pain rather than crippling under neck pain. I had a sports massage which helped a bit but ow!
I guess there was too much good news so I had to have a bit of pain mixed in!
I was looking at old photos of myself on Timehop (God bless Timehop, the regurgitator of past lives!) and realised that I was really skinny. This was something of a surprise to me as I spent a good proportion of my life and most of my adult life feeling fat.
It's like a lot of my old life is something of a shock to me now. I remembered with a jolt the other day that I didn't wear trousers for five years because my ex told me my legs looked a bit like sausages in them. Five years! When did I allow someone else to have such agency over my body?
Even before I met my ex, I think I had some pretty disordered eating. Not quite anorexia – I never really was one for seeing things through – but I did maintain a pretty low body weight that is significantly lower than I am now. (For context: I am around 5'2", and I used to be a UK size 8-10, and now I'm about a UK size 12. Generally not considered "overweight".)
I'm not sure when my disordered eating and strange body image first started. A lot of people (especially girls) start this around puberty, and perhaps that's what happened for me. I think it's a bit deeper than that, though. I was adopted as a baby, transracially, and I grew up around white people so all my life I've looked different from most of the people I was around growing up.
When I went to a predominantly white school, all of this got amplified. I remember that it was a shock because I slowly realised that I was "less than" because of my race. I realised that I was supposed to be blonde haired and blue eyed and I was about as far from that as possible. I started to find myself ugly (and people started to tell me I was ugly to my face). I never had the skinny white girl legs. Mine were muscular and I was just a different build. Really average for my race, as it turns out. But you don't know that as a child if you grow up with people who don't look like you.
Adoption is complex, and I don't know how much of this was tied up in adoption, but I do know I can't separate out being a different race from my overall experience of growing up. My feeling of not fitting in, even though that was all I knew. Anyway, I got kind of chubby. Although looking back, I wasn't chubby. I don't think I was ever actually chubby – I was just short, and not lanky.
Then one time when I was around 16, I went away on a holiday (to learn a language) and when I was there I got pretty sick and I couldn't really eat anything. And I dropped a load of weight. When I got back, suddenly everyone said how amazing I looked because I was skinny. I was suddenly approved of, and I liked it. So I maintained it.
I maintained it for a really long time. The thing is, I'm not naturally meant to be that weight. (It's about 20-30kg lighter than I am now. I don't know exactly how much as I don't know how much I weigh now.) So I got by on some disordered eating that kept me at my magic weight. My magic weight crept up over time… I kept in a 5kg weight range through school, and then it kind of crept up during my time at university, until it was +10kg, and then it was about +15kg in my last few years with IVF and everything. And even +20kg post miscarriage.
For me, I always thought I was "happy" when I was a lower weight. But when I look back, I was always kind of unhappy. I was happy that I'd managed to keep my weight down but I always felt a kind of anxiety about it. I used to weigh myself every day. The number on the scales made me feel like I was achieving something or I was failing something.
When I met T, after I'd split up with my ex – I had to adjust to a new way of being. I was always very controlled with my ex. He wouldn't think he was, but he controlled a lot about me. He had a huge effect on my feelings of self worth (or not). This was someone who had always dated very skinny women and even told me I was the fattest person he'd ever been with. It made me feel pretty bad about myself that I was that. The whole thing with my ex was that I never felt good enough. With T, I felt good enough. He really didn't care about weight. I actually met him when I was still pretty skinny and I piled on the relationship pounds… I let myself go.
I'm still conflicted about how I feel about it, because I recognise that my magic weight wasn't magic at all, but a strange idea of how I was supposed to look. And T tells me he loves me the way I am. But it was hard in the beginning putting on pregnancy weight – not just because of the weight itself, but the fear that it might be for nothing, like our first IVF and pregnancy was.
This pregnancy that gave me B also gave me a lot of weight. Firstly I had to take IVF drugs which make you put on weight. And also I had to take steroids which make you put on weight also. I got to halfway through pregnancy in a state of fear that it wouldn't work out, but then when I got halfway I decided I was going to try my best not to fear it any more.
I also decided to stop weighing myself. I have weighed myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day, since I was a teenager. I even recorded my weight every day in an app so I could see how much weight I put on. It's a bit crazy obsessive.
When I was properly pregnant, I gave myself permission to stop weighing myself. And I let myself relax into the pregnancy.
And you know what?
The strange thing is, I have no doubt I'm at least magic weight +20kg. Possibly +30kg. And I definitely have my moments of feeling a bit concerned about it (especially if I catch a glimpse of myself coming out of the shower – stretch marks and overhang and pendulous mammaries hanging out) but I generally feel absolutely awesome.
I don't know how it works for other people but for me – my body was always this thing that failed me. I wasn't the same as my white friends. I looked different. I was ultimately not enough – I wasn't enough for my birth mother to keep me; I wasn't enough for my ex to love me how I needed to be loved; I wasn't thin enough or attractive enough or whatever.
But having B was like all vanity went out of the window. I love myself now, because I know I'm just the same as anyone else – I'm fallible and imperfect, but my messed up body gave me B and I love myself for that.
I love my ridiculous humungaboobs that feed B like a dream… when his dad "flies" him over to me for a feed, he giggles and opens his mouth to latch on. They may be saggy and baggy but they do exactly what they need to do to feed my baby, and I'm proud I've been able to do that and even to pump for him so he's been exclusively breastfed for his entire life, for half a year.
I love my saggy stomach. (This one requires a bit more imagination!) I love that it carried B safely (even though he needed cutting out at the last minute!). I love that I got to experience being gloriously, amazingly pregnant. I once had a big bump that I never thought I'd get to have, and I grew a human in there, and if it looks like a fleshy deflated balloon well – so be it. My bikini days are over anyway and I have an awesome very flattering swimsuit with tummy panels!
I love my fuller face. (Again this is a hard one!) I love that it's the face that my son loves. His eyes light up when he sees me. He giggles and reaches his arms out. We even had to hide the cushion with my face on because he kept staring at it! Yes, I don't have the cheekbones I used to have but they'll come back one day. Or maybe they won't. But I refuse to hate my face because it looks a little bit like my boy's and I love his.
Anyone who sees me now probably thinks I've "let myself go". And I really have.
I've given myself permission to breathe out. (You kind of have to if you had a caesarean, just saying.)
I've given myself permission to not care. I don't have to listen to the whispering voices of bullies from the past, who said I was fat and ugly. I'm not fat and ugly. I am the size I needed to be to carry my baby into existence. I'm the face of my ancestors, who I'm finally beginning to connect with through adoption forums and same race groups, and I refuse to be ashamed of my non-whiteness because I don't ever want to see that shame in my son's face.
Of course I don't advocate being unhealthy. (Well, chocolate notwithstanding.) The thing is, I'm a size bigger than I was pre-pregnancy. But there's a freedom in letting myself have this. I have told myself I won't diet until I finish breastfeeding. Right now, I don't know when that will be. I want to do at least a year. In fact I'm enjoying it so much (never thought I'd say that!) that I joke I'll do it till he's 15… although I think he might decide to wean himself before then! (We have started baby led weaning but B is not interested in the least… It's a messy business!)
I will start exercising again when I have the time, for sure. But it will be just for myself. I miss the enjoyment I used to get from exercise, a bit, but then we are pretty active as we walk almost everywhere and we have Dog, and he gets us out and about. Plus I do swimming with B once a week, if bobbing around in the shallow end counts. (Yes it does!)
The important thing is that I want B to have a healthy self esteem and be happy. And a huge part of that is having happy healthy parents. I don't want him to see his mother dieting or hating the body that he changed by coming into existence. I don't want him to hate half of his race that came from me. We've taken steps… He's in a diverse nursery in the diverse area we live in. So he will never have the experience of feeling the odd one out, like I did.
And his parents are currently happy together and don't argue that much! (And when they do, it's his mama's fault… Hopefully the hormones will have died down a bit by the time he's more aware!) We are hopefully moving to our new place soon, so he'll even have a bit of outside space. And he has an awesome Dog for a buddy, and a load of new buddies at nursery… Life is good… and we are going to focus on the good things we are grateful for, rather than the bad things we wish we didn't have.
Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will know we are massive Disney fans. We have booked to bring B to Disneyland Paris this year, because even though he won't remember it, it's our happy place (and we will save Orlando and the transatlantic flight for when he's older!). We have been every year apart from last year (heavily pregnant) as a couple and now we're going back as a family.
And of course, one of the best Disney songs ever is from Frozen: Let it Go. I don't tell that many people this, but I can barely ever listen to that song without wanting to cry. It's the perfect song that sums up so much of how I feel. (Which is strangely embarrassing given I'm an almost-40 year old definitely not Scandinavian most likely not a princess archetypally buttoned up British-by-adoption person.)
Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!
So here's the thing… I never was perfect. But I was trying to be, and it was exhausting.
And I never realised that all this time I needed to find acceptance. Not from other people, but from myself.
There are good and bad things about Timehop. I always find it interesting to see what I did on this day a year ago, and the years before that. Although there are always things we'd rather forget and it doesn't seem to filter those out.
This morning's Timehop showed me this scan picture. So strange to think of what time was like a year ago, when little B was in existence but we had no concept of who he was, and now he's here, bright and alive and spreading butternut squash all over his tray table. (I actually hate butternut squash and it turns out he isn't too keen either.)
I am so grateful to medical science that we have this chance to be his parents, that I have a chance I never thought I'd have, to be a mother. As an adoptee, to know someone biologically related to me. To see someone who looks a bit the same. To know I'll be able to offer that comfort of looking a bit like him and he'll never have to wonder where he came from.
And I think back to this time last year and it seems almost inconceivable(!) how much my life has changed. I'm still the same person and yet I'm not.
I may be out of the trenches of infertility but I can remember what it was like. And the fear that haunted me throughout my pregnancy with B. Right now I'm looking at that scan picture and remembering how I felt relief and I cried that there was a baby there. But I also didn't feel happy that I was pregnant because I was so scared that we would lose this one as well.
And a rainbow baby, as B is, is a special sort of baby. All babies are special of course. But a rainbow baby has parents who know the fear of loss and who went through the special kind of hell before their baby was born. Maybe a rainbow baby has parents who don't take parenthood for granted. I know we don't. I feel a ridiculous sense of gratefulness every single day when I look at his chubby little face.
I don't know what I can say to my friends who are still in the trenches apart from, I feel for you and I want you to know you are not alone. I know that I'm just one more of those annoying people who now have a baby. I know what it's like to feel infertility anger and I bear you no malice if you wish to unfollow. But you must know, you are not alone.
When I joined WordPress three or so years back, I felt like I was talking into a void. I needed somewhere to shout and rage about my infertility and to try and make sense of what we were going through. And then I realised it brought up some feelings about adoption I had buried. And I quickly realised that I wasn't alone at all.
I had such support throughout my whole journey of making sense of all of this. Infertility but also adoption, and feelings about all sorts of things from work to friendships.
And I made real life friends. Some I've never even met in real life but whom I consider actual real life friends!
So although this path is hard, and paved with the small angry pebbles of anger and loss (and running with the tears we have shed! Let's make that metaphor work for us!), know that you are not alone. I promise you. There are good people out there! And the great thing is, your blog is for you and it attracts the people who are interested in what you have to say! Who knew?! There are some pretty awesome folk out there and I hope one day to convert some of my real life not-yet-met friends into actual "I know what your voice sounds like" friends!
So, that's all for today really. Looking back is bittersweet. I know we had a long bloody wait to meet our miracle. And I'd be lying if I said I was happy to go through that. But the outcome was bloody spectacular. I'm biased of course, but B is such a happy baby it's hard to complain about the slightly truncated sleep cycles (co sleeping helps) and the over familiarity with poo (how does it get everywhere?!). When my baby chucks back his head and giggles I think there is not a sight nor sound in human history that will ever top it.
This year is a bumper year. We are planning our "big" birthdays and we are going to take B on his first trip to Disney (Paris – not going to brave a transatlantic flight with a baby!). We decided we are going all out and staying in the Disneyland Hotel. OMG Disney fans! Too exciting. Of course B won't really notice it but we will enjoy it! Hopefully our new flat will settle soon (ah the vagaries of the UK housebuying process!) so B will get his forever home and Dog hopefully will too. (I am still hoping I am right in thinking he is a special species of immortal dog who's going to live forever.) A bit of outside space (it has a terrace) is super exciting for us Londoners. I see my friends overseas and their gigantic yards and I think you'd have to laugh at our modest delusions of grandeur!
So yeah, life is pretty good right now. So much has changed in a year. I am so grateful to my lucky stars and whoever else may have had a hand in it. (Doctors and IVF technicians mainly I guess.) I keep telling myself not to worry about something going wrong. It seems hard to imagine because 2015 was such a bad year, but maybe these things all even out in the end.
And you… I've not had as much time as I expected to catch up on people's blogs. My day seems to lend itself more to the intermittency of Facebook. But I do care about what's going on in your lives! Tell me your news!
I don’t know how this happened but life is just whizzing by lately. I’m not even sure what I do with my days!
Since I last wrote, the following has happened:
- B started nursery and T went back to work
- I organised a stonking hen do (whoop whoop!)
- I saw my BFF who lives overseas
- I’ve been “working from home” for a few weeks
What has not happened:
- I haven’t had a shower every day. I just don’t seem to get round to it and I don’t have to when I’m working from home!
- I don’t seem to have done that much actual work.
- Our flat STILL hasn’t gone through. House buying is a marathon here! I’m hoping we are in the end stages.
B is fantastic. I still thank my lucky stars every single day for him. I am utterly in love. I know every mother thinks their child is the best child but I know mine is. 😉 He’s just so chillaxed all the time. People always comment on it. (Of course, in my paranoid states I sometimes think maybe he has some sort of developmental problem but he’s very happy interacting with people so hopefully he’s okay.)
Nursery start went better than I really thought it could do. I think the anticipation of it was worse than the actuality. The nursery is good and bad. I mean, obviously it’s not as good as being a SAHM (the dream – who’da thunk it that I would actually want to do this?) but it’s pretty good in that they do a lot of activities with them and they genuinely seem to love the babies. I know they could be acting but there are always loads of them around (they have certain ratios they have to stick to) so I think it would have to be a mass conspiracy if they were secretly beating them or something.
Given B is averse to taking a bottle – he’s taken to it like a duck to water. Maybe it helps that neither of his parents are there. He now seems to be on about 8oz a day which seems good. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It has been super hot here so maybe he’s having more. He is more of an evening drinker. (Aren’t we all?!)
Pumping… Well, contrary to my previous excited post re pumping, I seem to be having more trouble getting as much lately. I can still get a decent amount overall but it’s not all in one go any more. So I maybe get 8-10oz but sometimes it takes a few goes to get it. I think what has happened is that my boobs have decided they don’t need to feed B when he’s not there! It’s really frustrating as I don’t want to spend time pumping when he is there. I am trying to do maybe 8ish oz per day to cover nursery so I have been trying to pump to a more regular schedule. Anyway, it’s a massive PITA and I’m not happy about it.
Work is weird. I’m back but I’m not back, so I have hardly any work to do. Which is kind of nice in a way but it’s not like I can just go on holiday or something and it’s really weird when B is in nursery a few minutes away. I suppose I could take him out of nursery but then I wouldn’t be able to get anything done, when I can now get a small amount done. But really my boss just seems to be waiting for a new piece of work to come in and then presumably I’ll be busy with that.
Overall the return to work has been a bit odd like that and I don’t think I can really say I’ve had a positive experience with continuing to breastfeed. It’s the whole reason I’m not back full time in the office, because they can’t accommodate it. It seems crazy in this day and age that they can’t provide one private room to pump in. In one office it means I have to travel over an hour each way and I have to book the videoconference room at least 24 hrs in advance, and then when I get there and each time I want to pump have to go and get the room ready, which involves sticking paper over windows and putting a sign on the door saying don’t come in, because they don’t have any rooms that lock.
In the other office they don’t even have a bookable meeting room so I have to do it in the disabled loo! Which I’ve been banned from doing in the other office. It’s ridiculous. Luckily I have my pumping bag which has a built in cool bag and so on, but really I’d be up the creek otherwise. (Slight review update on the Sarah Wells pump bag: The size is good. The coolbag is good. The straps to use it as a rucksack are terrible.)
Bear in mind that the legislation about not discriminating against breastfeeding mothers came in 2010 and it’s now seven years later. It seems ludicrous to me that they can’t accommodate it. But even more disappointing has been some of the attitudes. (I posted some of these in my previous blog post, How Not To Pump At Work.)
Oh and to add insult to injury, the older lady who just joined is probably going to replace my boss (who I love) as he wants to decrease his direct reports. You know when you just meet a woman and you realise she’s one of those kind of Passive Aggressive Against Other Women women? Yeah, she’s one of those. It’s weird because I love my new company and all the women I’ve met so far have been kind of *solidarity* so she’s the first outlier. I’m trying not to let it bother me but I don’t feel that pleased about it. So far she has:
- Told my boss that she didn’t need to pump when she went back to work after having her kids. (So now he thinks I’m being precious trying to pump at work… Never mind that it’s protected by law!)
- Told me that she’s worked in [my industry] for years and that I couldn’t wear what I was wearing that day around her clients. (How condescending… This woman is over a decade older than me and I’m 1-2 grades more junior than her… I’ve done okay. And I’m old enough to judge what to wear to meet clients, and never had any complaints. For the record I was wearing an on trend floral jacket and she was wearing a scratty cardigan!)
- Told me a story about how she went back to work after having a kid and continued to breastfeed (yeah, like I’m trying to do) but got sent overseas so her husband quit his job and brought the baby and traveled with her so she could continue to feed and work… “But of course, I was at that point in my career.” (Implying I’m not.)
- When she found out I liked Disney decided to tell me how they were going to Orlando for their holiday and how they always travel First Class and the holiday cost THIRTY THOUSAND POUNDS. £30k!!! Who does that?! (I did think she probably didn’t get a good deal!)
I was telling someone else about her and I said it was like I didn’t meet a woman – it was like meeting a man. I have this saying – w*lly waving – which is what I think men do when they get into a situation where they want to demonstrate their superiority. It’s like showing off. Peacocking. She was spreading her tail feathers and showing off how superior she was… and I wasn’t even interested in playing. (The cruder terminology is that she “flopped it out on the table”…) Anyway we shall see what happens because it doesn’t really bode well… I’m hoping that she softens up before becoming my boss. 😦
On the baby front, it’s weird being back at work when the others are all off work. I decided to put a bit of distance between me and them (the other mums in the area I know, mainly through NCT). I guess our experiences have diverged quite a bit. Last week I ended up going for lunch with them twice (because I was working from home) and it just brought it home to me that it’s not that pleasant being around other people with babies when I can’t be with my baby. Of course I could have gone and got him from nursery but it would be very disruptive for him. He seems to have settled in really well and my next door neighbour who’s an ex nursery employee said not to disrupt him in his first few weeks.
Anyway throughout lunch, their babies screamed and cried and I just found it all a bit gross. Maybe being around B means I make more oxytocin and therefore find babies more tolerable?! I felt like I had felt in my pre baby days – that babies are a bit distasteful. Haha. Also I found we have diverged in parenting techniques quite a bit so perhaps it’s that. The others I usually hang out with are kind of up tight about stuff and want everything very regimented. Their babies don’t sleep very well and they cry a lot.
We are more laissez faire parents, and just sort do it through intuition. We don’t have B in any sort of regimented routine (though obviously he has a vague routine as he has to get up to go to nursery, or swimming at the weekend, etc). We never put him down on his own to sleep – though he’s miraculously developed the technique of tolerating this at nursery – so he just goes to bed when we do, although he tends to fall asleep in my arms before then. I breastfeed him on demand including at night when we co-sleep so he settles back within a couple of minutes. I babywear him pretty much all the time and he rarely goes in the buggy. And I haven’t tried to wean him at all, at almost six months.
The others are always desperate for time off from the babies. I guess this is where infertile people and fertile people diverge. I spend so much time being super happy that B exists, that I really couldn’t give a flying sh*t if he wakes me up at night and I’m not trying to escape him in any way. I mean, I asked for it! And really he doesn’t wake me up much. He kind of stirs, I roll over, feed him and we both go back to sleep (sometimes mid feed). I figure it is such a short time before we can go back to “non baby” life that it doesn’t bother me not to be out on the town all the time or anything like that. For sure I’d like to have a shower a bit more often, but B loves to have a bath with me so it’s not all bad.
They’re also super competitive about trying to get them to do things like sit up, roll over (like dogs?!) and eat stuff, so the ones who are still breastfeeding can stop breastfeeding. It just seems like they always seem to be in mild competition, but maybe I’m misreading it. I mean I got asked the other day why I hadn’t bought B Sophie la giraffe and I was like, I don’t like giraffes! But you must get it! It’s the best thing I’ve ever bought for her! Err no, I really don’t think one teething toy is going to be a game changer… I still have all my teeth and I never had Sophie! And I always get these comments about B being “so chilled” and “always asleep” (because I carry him in a sling all the time so he just sleeps instead of screaming in the buggy).
I guess the thing is, against my predictions I’ve turned into something of an earth mother / crunchy mom (UK/US). I am not really either of those things because I’m not white (which the vast majority of EM/CMs are) and also I don’t really go in for the organic, no plastic, cloth nappy thing. (I think scraping poo off a nappy is a step too far.) But I’m not into the whole trying to get them weaned / onto formula etc. As long as I can nurse him, I’m going to do it if he still wants it, because it’s so much easier! And he seems to settle easier too. I do privately think it’s sort of funny that I’m the least bothered about doing all this training them stuff and my baby seems the most chillaxed. I just hope that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him!
So yesterday I finally muted our whatsapp because they all decided to buy a sleep training course and so I received about 250 messages about a regimented nap routine. I guess there’s a difference between sleep training and CIA (Cry It Out – controlled crying) which is something that massively divides parents. And it probably makes me sound mega judgy but I don’t feel like I’m super judgy… I just am not that interested in their style of parenting, which mainly seems to be about being upset when the babies don’t do exactly what they want them to do. I don’t know what will happen going forward as they are my main mum friends. Thing is, maybe I’ll just go back to hanging out with my pre-baby friends!
Other than that, the hen do went amazingly! I was so happy because my friend seemed to love it. She even sent me some dog shaped biscuits from Biscuiteers as a thank you! I was so relieved that it all went according to plan and we had a great time. It was a fun group of people, and probably the right amount of activity. The important thing was my friend had an amazing day being the centre of attention!
Some photos. We started off with brunch, followed by a candy making class, afternoon tea, comedy and a bar!
The other cool thing that happened was that one of the adoptees I “know” online came to London on holiday, so we met up! It was so great to meet someone I kind of know! There are lots of blog friends I’d love to meet too! (Hit me up if you’re ever in London!)
I have been meaning to do a post about adoption and having a baby, but there really are a lot of feels and I don’t really have the words yet. And also I probably should do an update on how I’m feeling about adoption and social justice. I don’t really feel the same as I used to when I first started blogging, but that’s for another post too.
Anyway, we went for afternoon tea, which was hilarious as she thought we were going for a cup of tea, rather than a meal! I’d told her about the cost beforehand to check if it was okay, so I said to her she must have thought that was the most expensive cup of tea ever!
We had an amazing time because we had so much in common when it comes to being adopted transracially. It is a bit like when I met T that we understood about adoption – he is also adopted. So this was even more similar because we were both POC (people of colour) adopted by white families. We just talked nonstop and I really think we could have gone on for hours! Her husband kindly left us to natter whilst he took their child for a walk around somewhere else, so we had to stop in the end! It was so cool to meet her though.
Finally, we are still waiting on details of our house move! I’m hoping it won’t fall through as it really is the dream flat, but you never know. The whole house buying process here is soooo sloooow. You never know what is happening. We are hoping we will manage to move by August – we were originally planning on July but it hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully we will exchange in the next week or two and complete by August, in time for B’s naming ceremony in September! We are hoping to have a little do on the terrace if/when we have moved in. T has put me on a strict budget so it will be home made afternoon tea and BYOB! More on that later…
So since I’ve been “back at work” (in inverted commas because I’ve been told I should work from home when I don’t have meetings, because they can’t accommodate pumping as required by law) I have been pumping regularly so that B can have expressed breast milk when I’m not there.
This week he started at nursery so he’s starting to get into a routine. (Aside: I’m so amazed that a child who has never been put down to sleep away from me has somehow managed to get used to napping by himself in a cot during the day.) He does vary in how much milk he drinks, but still seems to be doing fine on expressed milk and doesn’t show any interest in weaning yet.
I provide them with milk I have pumped the day before. Or the day before that. Breast milk will last around five days in the fridge. (The rule of thumb is 5 hours room temp, 5 days fridge, 5 months freezer – or six of each, depending on what you believe.) I don’t really have an issue with supply but it is a massive faff pumping in the office, even with my state of the art pumping equipment!
See previous post: How not to pump at work
So because I have a hen do to attend, I realised I’d be out all day and I’d have to pump some even to relieve some engorgement. I’m not so bothered about keeping the milk as I have a decent supply but I don’t really want to be wasting it either by hand pumping it into the loo…
I also didn’t want to cart my entire pump bag around with me as we will be going to loads of different places and I have hen stuff to carry as well. I have a haakaa type hand pump but that isn’t practical either… It’s more for catching letdown rather than actually pumping, and it doesn’t store it either, not in a portable way.
So I decided I might as well buy a hand pump to see if that would work. They are fairly inexpensive. Looking at reviews, the Medela Harmony seemed to do pretty well and I figured it would also work with the stuff I already have for my Medela Swing Maxi (double electric pump). I ordered it on Amazon Prime for just under 20 quid.
It arrived today and I thought I would give it a go…
At work with my electric pump I could sometimes get a lot but I generally found it would take a while and sometimes up to half an hour. Even at home it might be 15-20 minutes.
Today I pumped each side for around 5 minutes and I got this…
Pros: Easy to use. Painless. You can control the speed and strength of pumping yourself. Fits all the storage bottles I already had. No need for batteries, and no cables. Doesn’t take long. Fewer parts to sterilise. Not a lot of kit to carry about – very light. Way less setting up time which is ideal if you’re in a bathroom.
Cons: Not handsfree. (But it took less time today anyway.) You have to do one side at a time rather than both at once.
It was amazing! Maybe I should have tried it before spending £200 on electrics?!
There’s a lot to be said for electric pumps. They’re efficient and you can do something else whilst you pump. (I read the news.)
But a hand pump is bloody amazing for a fraction of the price, if today is anything to go by! I’m going to try it next time I’m in the office. If it works – I’m a convert.
Sitting here listening to music on Alexa (“Alexa – play songs by Ed Sheeran”) and this came on and now I’m in floods of tears. And feeling very thankful.
Trigger warning: some serious emotion relating to pregnancy.