Forgive my terrible iPhone pictures but we are on our way back from Disneyland Paris and I wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas!
Disney’s always been our happy place… We always went to Disneyland Paris in December to celebrate Christmas (a bit in advance of the actual day because we like to be at home on the day). It was our “Second date” as T says (because apparently none of the intervening meet ups counted as a date, because we didn’t go out anywhere!).
And for those of you who followed my blog during the pre-B times, you’ll know it’s the place we went to try and be happy again after years of infertility and our first cycle of IVF ended in the loss of our first, longed for baby in 2015. (We said if it didn’t work out we’d go to Disney World in Florida. We did, and it was amazing. Very few things could put a smile back on my face.)
For those who’ve been through infertility and loss, you know the pain of trying to find happiness whilst thinking you may never have your happy ending. And I wouldn’t say anything so crass as to suggest you will have it – because life isn’t fair and it doesn’t always work out that way. But I hope 2018 is your year. Even though some of us are on “The Other Side” and have a baby after infertility and loss, I don’t think we ever forget.
So to be able to go to Disneyland with our little baby B and to see his reaction to meeting all the characters, and to see Disney through a child’s eyes – that felt all the sweeter. Bittersweet, almost. T even said, I wonder what our first baby would have looked like? To us, B is the most beautiful baby in the world. (Almost a toddler!) We wished and hoped for him for so long. I just loved the ability to give him that experience of the magic of Disney and to know that the dream I held for so long finally came true.
I know there is pain and sadness and I want to hold space for that. I wish that all of you could have your Christmas wishes. I also think of my friends who have gone through so much this year. My friend with cancer, marking a year of fighting it. My friend with infertility who had to accept that her journey to try and have a baby is over. My brother and his wife who are dealing with a life changing diagnosis for their child, and letting go of all the jealousy I used to hold for his perfect life. And all the difficult stuff going on in the world… It just blows my mind sometimes.
This year has been such a life changing one. The year I became a mother. The year B came into the outside world after kicking away inside me for months. Timehop tells me I was absolutely huge about now. I had all these ideas about motherhood, and I knew I really really wanted a child but I wasn’t sure if I wanted a baby – I thought that part might be difficult and tiring and hard.
But it’s been the best year of my life. And I feel such gratitude that somehow the stars aligned and we managed to make a baby (with a little help from our – medical – friends). I can’t even describe how much gratitude I feel. And I really don’t say this to be smug. I don’t feel proud of anything I’ve done because it was almost all down to other people, people who helped us achieve the (almost) impossible.
So to all of them and all of you –
The doctors who helped us
The nurses and midwives who looked after us
The embryologists and fertility doctors who helped us make B
The surgeons who made things safe for B to grow – and helped him enter the world
The immunologist who dosed me up on ten different types of medication
The sonographers who figured out what was going on
The friends – in real life and online who supported us
Our families who rooted for us and cried with us after our previous loss
I am so deeply grateful. I hope that you find your happy under the tree. I hope you get your heart’s desire. I’ll never stop feeling grateful and I won’t take any of this for granted.
So what with our busy year this year and buying not one but two apartments, I’ve had barely any time or money to do the normal Christmas preparations I usually like to do. (Aka shopping.)
This Christmas will be a smaller scale Christmas with some less expensive (but hopefully more thoughtful) gifts we’ll be giving. I am hoping people will be slightly forgiving what with B being a rather active 11 month old and me working full time and whatnot.
Anyway, I decided to try my hand at a Christmas craft idea… not sure where it came from, but I had it in my head it would work out okay and I think it did! I haven’t had much chance to make any cakes this year and I think it sort of uses similar skills (like piping icing… but with paint instead!).
Actually I do know where it came from… There is a shop called Fortnum & Mason in London which does really nice shopping bags. They are usually blue with black writing but at Christmas they’re red and gold. They look great and they are nice for giving gifts but people also like to use them for shopping. And the bag I made for my friend’s hen do, she seems to use all the time so I thought I’d do my own take on a shopper / gift bag that people will hopefully like to re-use.
– Red jute bags (varying sizes)
– Gold fabric paint
I just did freehand and I think they worked out pretty well!
Let me know what you think! And link me your Christmas crafts…
I never seem to manage to make the time to blog much any more, and that’s a perfect microcosm of how it feels to be a working mother – there’s never enough time for anything. Which is crazy, because I have a million unwritten blog posts swirling in my head. Many of which are about the strange hinterland that is being a working mum (mom!) after years of infertility.
First things first: I am so grateful to be here. I still do a double take every single day when I wake up next to my beautiful boy and I realise that somehow, after all the struggle, I am a mother. How did this happen?, swirls through my mind every day. I thank all those people silently who helped that dream become a reality. And I don’t easily forget all the years where it didn’t seem possible.
Second things second: Being a mother after infertility is a strange thing to be… I feel like it’s almost a different thing from being a “normal” mother. I don’t think we post infertiles ever really forget the deep grief and fear, the joy-pain of pregnancy after loss, the hoping and wishing that something will go right after so many wrongs. My overwhelming emotion most of the time is deep joy and gratitude that I have managed to have this experience of carrying and giving birth to a human being… my first known biological relative.
Which brings me to the third point: Having a child after being adopted [in a closed adoption] is a huge thing. It’s monumental. Having a child after having been transracially, transnationally adopted – if you weren’t, you can’t even begin to comprehend the profundity of it. I couldn’t, before it happened to me, despite that person being me.
To look into my baby’s face and recognise my own – to feel that deep kinship, to feel joined to someone else when it has never happened before in my living memory – it’s the most gut wrenching joy-pain you can imagine. To realise what I lost as a baby. To realise what I’ve gained through having my baby. To realise my birth culture and language is lost to me and I can’t pass it on to him… To realise that matters – even despite the joy. To live in that complexity where joy can coexist with grief and loss.*
Of course – I don’t want to put that on him. He has no responsibility other than being my baby doing babyish things and hopefully drawing as much joy out of life as a baby can inhale. And yet – he is everything.
(*I already knew what I’d gained – prevailing adoption narratives always focus more on gain than loss. I can be happy and adopted and have suffered deep loss all at the same time. That’s adoption complexity for you.)
Fourthly: After so many other “Not like the other” categories, Working Mother has to be the most stark. I genuinely never knew that the battle lines of Motherhood were so entrenched. And none more than Stay At Home Mother vs Working Mother. I never wanted to be caught up in these battles, any more than I wanted to define myself by Crunchy Mom vs Gina Ford Mom, or Breastfeeding Mum vs Fed is Best Mum – and yet, if there’s one thing mothers seem to like doing, it’s defining themselves as a Mum Type. (I’m Haphazard, Intuitive Mum… completely disorganised and completely in love. That’s all really.) I realise in so many spaces I don’t really fit in. And the (relative) loss of my antenatal buddies – who fell by the wayside as soon as I went back to work – felt like a rejection of the old school kind. (And that’s not even to get into the whiteness of motherhood… and how that makes a transracial adoptee feel. A complex subject for another day!)
And yet, I think we’ve settled into our own niche. I’ve found mum friends – some of whom will probably last and some of whom probably won’t. Quite honestly, it’s hard to cultivate friendships when you work full time and other mums seem to have endless pools of time to do Mum things and they use their weekends to catch up with their husbands… My baby is at nursery during the week and so even if I’m working from home, I can’t really meet mum friends, because why would I want to go and spend time with someone else’s baby when mine is in daycare? Like I said, it’s a strange hinterland and we find our own way.
I have made some Mum buddies whose kids go to our nursery – their kids are a bit older, because I had to go back to work so soon. But it’s good because we have more in common. (I’m the terrible one feeding my child Ella’s Kitchen premade pouches instead of developing a varied baby menu and posting pictures of tot cuisine to our whatsapp groups. Our working mums group is a safe space for all of us who’ve ended up rushing across town all sweaty to grab our babies at the last possible minute. No Lingo Tots or prosecco in the play park for us!)
The thing is, I wish I could join those other mums. I’d love to be a stay at home mum, for even a time, and I find myself wondering whether it’s possible to have it all, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t – something has got to give. For working mums, it’s missing out on all the mundane stuff that our SAHM friends take for granted. The idea I might not see my child’s first steps.
Which brings me to: The Dilemma.
I’m doing not too badly in my job. Weirdly… It always makes me a little nervous when things are going well because I’m primed to feel like something is bound to go wrong. But I’ve managed to develop a great working relationship with my boss (the one I wasn’t happy that my old boss – who I love in a work platonic way – put in place). We seem to be quite symbiotic and complementary and work well as a team. And I am lucky that what I’m doing right now means I have the flexibility to work from home a fair amount and to continue breastfeeding/ pumping. (11 months next week. How did that happen?!) It’s important to me that I am able to do that. And coincidentally, I also get paid more than I ever did before, and my working hours are more reasonable. I honestly don’t know how that happened. I like to think it’s my karmic reward for putting up with so much **** in my old job!
Let’s not beat around the bush – I’m the main breadwinner. By a lot. I get paid almost double what T gets paid. We were lucky enough to have an offer accepted on our dream flat this year and it’s my salary that enabled us to get the mortgage (plus a fair bit of help from my parents with the deposit). So I need to work to continue to provide for our family. T is an awesome partner as he’s much more organised than I am and he figures out everything we need to do domestically. I just have one job – to earn the money. (Well, and to feed B!) Doing what I do helps keep us afloat. And getting promoted, earning more and doing well would help us reach our sweet spot (pay off debts and mortgage) sooner.
Our company is having a leadership summit in January, and I received an invitation. It’s a long way away – a transatlantic flight away. It goes on for four days plus travel. And only approved people get invited.
I got an invitation. It’s a big deal.
I asked my big boss if there was a mistake. (Surely not me!) My manager wasn’t sure either… She said our big boss had to approve all names so I must have been invited, but maybe not.
I emailed him to check there hadn’t been an error.
He called me. No error. I’m invited. “As a member of the leadership team.” Of course! (I’m like the most junior person in the team. They’re all one or two grades above me, or in his case, four!)
And when is this conference? Smack bang over my baby’s very first birthday.
He told me, You don’t have to come. Let me know and if you don’t want to, I’ll give your space to Andy. (Andy is another relatively junior member of the team. Hopefully not as well regarded as me.)
All the global leadership will be there… It’ll be a great networking opportunity. All expenses paid.
And… It’s my baby’s first birthday.
T says, He won’t know. We can move it a couple of days and celebrate then. I say, But I’ll know. I’d be on the other side of the world when my baby turns one.
My manager has asked me to work on a big piece of work over that time anyway, so the decision may yet be taken out of my hands, but the summit probably takes priority – if I want to go.
Every few minutes I change my mind about what is an obvious decision. And it comes back to my multiple identities and how the “obvious” answer changes according to which identity I’m cloaking myself in at the time. I am a mother. I am a working mother. I’m an adoptee whose baby is the most important person in the world to me. I am a mother after loss who realises how precious those small mundane things are. I am a transnational, transracial adoptee who finally made a family. I’m someone who was cut off from her roots who invests a huge amount emotionally in birthdays because they are the only link to my past.
I am all those things and I am my baby’s mother and I am a great worker and I want to do well so I can provide for him and make him safe, keep a roof over his head, keep him happy.
But he is not me. B is not me. He is himself, and he’s wonderful and joyous and giggly and amazing and cute. He doesn’t need to be anything for me, but I need to be everything for him.
How do we ever resolve our multiple identities? How do we decide what is best?
I don’t know if we ever can, but I’m going to have to try…
A few weeks ago we had a little mini holiday to Wales. It rained a lot of the time but we had a great time nonetheless. That’s Wales for you! And we recreated a photo we took years ago on the beach, for our fifth anniversary. (Dog is in the originals but in the spirit of anonymity I’m preserving his!) It was strange to think that nothing has changed, and everything has changed. I feel a bit giddy when I realise I’m actually a mother!
We went to visit The Centre for Alternative Technology which was much more interesting than I’d anticipated! It made T think we aren’t doing enough for the environment and he later discovered our beloved Nissan Qashqai is the worst car for the environment! We hardly use it, but we are definitely going for a more environmentally friendly one next time!
On rainy days we did various things. We went for afternoon tea. We played with B. He’s desperately trying to walk! Poor Dog is hyper vigilant now in case of tail pulling! They seem to be buddies on the whole especially when B drops food…
It’s nice to get away, and just decompress, I think. I really enjoy my job at the moment because they give me a lot of freedom (eg working from home) but it’s still a kind of structure and I don’t have that when I’m on holiday. Also, a few days in a welsh valley without tv or Internet will do that for you!
But the best thing about going away is coming home. (And WiFi!)
You may have seen the latest awareness campaign sweeping social media – a wave of women posting “Me too”.
First of all, I want to be clear that I believe anyone who wants to post should post – and I can see that it is raising awareness, and I think everyone is entitled to their own story. So this is not to denigrate anyone who has posted – and there are a lot of them.
I won’t be posting, however, and here’s why:
- I believe it puts the onus back on the victims to own distressing experiences, and I don’t think that everyone who has experienced this is in a place where they want to revisit those experiences.
- I think social media badging and clicktivism on the whole can dissuade people from doing Actual Stuff, cf the safety pin movement. I haven’t seen a tonne of productive conversations or actions come out of this, but maybe that’s just my friends. It feels a bit like Post Your Bra Colour for Breast Cancer where nobody knew what it was for. That doesn’t really help raise awareness unless you also share your story, and that goes to my first point.
- Women already know that they are open to sexual harassment and attacks. I don’t think they need to be reminded and it kind of makes me angry that anyone thinks otherwise. Maybe it’s just too triggering for me but when I see my entire news feed filled with “Me too”, it doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t know and it just makes me angry and upset. I don’t feel solidarity – I just feel helpless. (I stress this is my reaction and I’m sure there are others who gain some sort of comfort out of knowing they’re not alone… but honestly it doesn’t make me feel better that most women have been sexually harassed and assaulted.)
- I’m just angry people didn’t know this already; that they won’t believe it until every woman has stood up and told her story, and even then they might not be believed because history tells us that there are always people who think the woman was to blame.
- The ridiculously low level of rape convictions.
- The ridiculously endemic sexual harassment culture in most jobs I’ve ever worked in, most jobs of friends I know, and just the world generally… The idea that the casting couch is actually a thing and that people think women benefit from “sleeping their way to the top”.
- When I started thinking of my stories, it brought up memories I didn’t particularly want to revisit. They went as far back as childhood. I have done pretty well and am a happy adult mainly because I’ve successfully compartmentalised things and moved on. I don’t want to sit and do a list of the times I was sexually interfered with, because that list goes way back and I don’t want to think about it. I’d rather think about how strong and happy I am today.
- This kind of swept Facebook during Baby Loss Awareness week and I just don’t like the juxtaposition. I can’t even bring to post about baby loss other than on other people’s statuses and oblique references to rainbows so I don’t think I’m going to go to the depths of my darkest history either.
I guess the whole thing just makes me angry, and sad, and generally feel negative. And I don’t want to feel that way.
The onus shouldn’t be on the victims to further victimise themselves. How about a campaign for men where they say “Me too” to mean, “I pledge to support and empower women and I commit to not sexually harassing or assaulting them and I am happy to be called out if I do.”
(Aka: Mamma Mia is still a load of rubbish.)
A few years ago, my friends from university decided to come to London for a girls’ weekend. There were four of us who used to share a flat. Of four, one had recently had their second baby and one was heavily pregnant with their second. And then when they all arrived, it turned out that the third one was also pregnant with her first. Yay! (Sarcasm font.)
And then there was me.
Infertile. (Except I didn’t exactly have a name for it, apart from I knew I had issues.)
They wanted to see a show. I’d said I’ll watch anything apart from Mamma Mia. I hate Mamma Mia.
We were booked to go and see Mamma Mia. Of course.
(For adoptees and infertiles this is the ideal show to watch! Not really!)
During that evening whilst I sat through a load of dreadful renditions of ABBA songs (I like ABBA – I just don’t like Mamma Mia), I necked a bottle of wine whilst my pregnant and nursing friends, well… didn’t. And then another one for good measure. By the end of it I was dancing to the ABBA medley finale like the rest of them.
Back in our rented apartment, after my nursing friend had pumped, we sat around in the kitchen talking and of course they all talked about their kids and I feigned interest on the basis I’d drunk two bottles of wine and I figured the best thing to do when faced with tedious situations like watching an awful show with your teetotal friends was get sh*tfaced.
Matters turned to my childlessness. Of course. That’s what people do… Try to persuade you that you really must have something wrong with you if you don’t have kids. I mean, it’s not like you are woefully aware of your shortcomings if you are A Woman Of A Certain Age Who Is Not A Mother.
Anyway, I can’t really remember what I said but I think in the end, buoyed by two bottles of wine and a truckload of Mamma Mia inspired bitterness, I told them to stop going on about me not having kids, and had it ever occurred to them I didn’t have kids because I couldn’t have kids, and not because I didn’t want them?
I kinda remember they were a little shocked.
And then we probably had an early night because they were all unused to staying up late.
* * *
Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I was talking with a mutual friend about childlessness and infertility. Since having B, I’ve always been at pains to stress it wasn’t easy and that I don’t take it for granted. I don’t want people struggling to think that I’m one of those people who just got pregnant without any hassle.
I mentioned in passing that people always assumed that I didn’t want kids and it was super hurtful. And I said, I remember kind of having a go at E (our mutual friend) because they’d assumed it of me and I was really upset at having to explain myself on what was meant to be a relaxing weekend.
Anyway, she said, “I may be breaking a confidence here but E told me about it after it happened, and she said she felt really bad.”
This was years ago and we’d never spoken of it again.
So perhaps the message does get through sometimes… even if it takes years to find out it did.
- The welcoming of a child is a momentous and wonderful occasion, regardless of whether it’s religious or not. We had a wonderful personal humanist ceremony in our new home and it was just perfect. Humanists believe that this is all there is and we need to try and do the most amount of good. They believe in the power of storytelling. Our celebrant wrote the most lovely service and there were tears all round! Even the religious people enjoyed it.
- Making afternoon tea is possible! I even managed to make scones and they’re much easier than I thought! We had loads of food and it was great fun. Four types of sandwiches, a whole heap of scones, jam and clotted cream, lemon cupcakes, vanilla buttercream cake, chocolate truffle ganache cake, brownies, chocolate pistachio fudge. All home made. It was a bit crazy!
- We bought vintage china on eBay. The guy just sent it in a cardboard box wrapped in newspaper. Half of it was broken! He sent replacements just in time. We really should open our own vintage afternoon tea café…!
- Last minute bubbles (the blowing sort) were great entertainment for the kids.
- Actual bubbles (the drinking sort) were great entertainment for the adults!
- My siblings who couldn’t attend dialled in via FaceTime. My other brother did turn up after all with my nephew which was really nice of him. I still felt hurt that my sister didn’t attend but in the end I didn’t want that feeling to take over so I dialled her in. We are going to visit in a week and I think my bad feeling will have died down by then! I’m not good at holding a grudge!
- My mum did a lovely reading that she personalised for B and it meant a lot. It was lovely to have personal aspects and our closest friends there. Everyone was so thoughtful. B received some lovely gifts! And more importantly it was so nice for our family and friends to share the day. My aunt and uncle came all the way from the north of England to be there for the day. It meant a lot.
Ultimately I guess it is a very personal occasion and probably not of interest to many people outside of immediate family and friends. But for us it seemed really significant. Because we had a humanist celebrant he told the whole story of us, because that’s how they do it.
It was amazingly personal and maybe the first time we had fully acknowledged how far we had come to be here with B. And also to celebrate how fortunate we are to have found happiness. It really seeemed so significant to me. I suppose some people just expect those things to happen, but after everything we’ve been through it seemed like the celebration of a very long journey to build our family.
Another milestone: Yesterday B crawled properly! He’s been a bit slow to move but he finally figured out he’s supposed to alternate arms to move forward. (He has managed the backwards crawl for weeks and weeks which results in ending up under the sofa!) Poor Dog is now having to up his evasive moves as B loves to chase him! Fortunately for Dog, B’s still fairly unsteady so he can easily escape. Although he is definitely B’s best friend at dinner time!
I can’t believe B is 8 months old already. We are so lucky. It sort of feels like all the suffering and pain beforehand was worth it, that I get to be the mama of this little guy. Sometimes I can’t believe he’s real and it really happened.
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.
We finally completed on our new home and got the keys a few days ago. I still get the happy shivers when I walk in! It’s our almost-forever home (before we retire to Florida to live out our days at Disney World!). It’s the home B will grow up remembering. I still love our other little flat and we are hopefully going to keep it and rent it out (B’s pension!). But this one is bigger, and has outside space – a terrace for Dog and B to play on, and for us to lounge on, and it’s pretty much perfect. Our dream home!
I still can’t believe I got everything I ever dreamed of. A great guy after a sad end to a previous relationship. The best dog you could ever ask for. A rainbow baby after years of trying and loss. A blood relative after almost 40 years of being a genetic island. A job I’m actually enjoying rather than enduring. When I look back to when I started this blog, and where we were at a couple of years ago, I feel very lucky.
I don’t take it for granted. I thank my lucky stars every day. I still have fleeting moments of anxiety where I’m scared I will lose it all, and especially B. (Not to the point of unmanageable anxiety or post natal depression, but I see danger everywhere now I have something so precious I couldn’t bear to lose.)
But the overwhelming joy and love I feel for finally getting to be a mother, and for the ease at which I’ve become B’s mama (he is the most easy going baby ever born, and the cutest, though I may be biased…) is something that cheers me every day and makes the memories of the hard times fade a little. I know I was lucky already, with T and Dog, so it feels like too much to have wished for this, but somehow it happened. I just feel so thankful for everything and especially my boys.
…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!