Thursday, 21 August 2014

Today I ate dog food and caught my fingers in a mouse trap. On purpose.

No, I wasn't partaking in some hazing to join a local drinking club. I was emulating my daughter.

I have dog. He is brilliant with Olive, incredibly patient, gentle and most importantly tries to ignore her whenever he can. When he can't (like when she is trying to ride him like a horse) he generally gets up and finds another quiet spot away from her inquisitive little fingers. If you have kids - she is the Zachary Quack to his Hairy Maclary.

He is unlike most dogs I know in his attitude to his food. I give it to him, he'll go and have a nibble. Go away again come back for a bit more later, and continue in that manner for the rest of the day.

Olive loves his food. The moment my attention is elsewhere - she tears across the kitchen as fast as her two arms and two legs can carry her heading straight for the bowl. If she makes it in time she stuffs a handful of dry dog biscuits in her mouth managing to combine a triumphant grin with a clenched lips as I try to extract the food from her mouth.

This is particularly depressing when moments earlier she may well have turned her nose up at the tempting, hand-crafted, turkey and apple meatballs I've offered her.

I know that safety standards specify dog food must be fit for human consumption and, to my knowledge, she has never actually swallowed any just held the biscuits (too large to choke on) in her mouth. But I think we can all agree it is a bit icky.

This morning, happily holed up in the sitting room far from temptations of canine cuisine, Olive went exploring. I like to let her exert her independence, and from my vantage point thought I had identified and neutralised any potential hazards.

Under the side board - long forgotten, left at Christmas when we saw a tiny mouse scurrying across the floor  - was a mouse trap.

You can guess the tiny fingers in trap outcome.

It is a testament to how wonderful a mother I am that it was only my second impulse to take a quick photo. My first instinct was to remove her little fingers from the trap, and whilst I might do a lot for a photoshoot I am not about to re-enact that scenario.

Luckily the trap wasn't one of those vicious metal numbers but a gentler (if not exactly gentle) plastic version. Her fingers didn't even have a mark and her tears dried pretty quickly.

Once she was in her bed for her morning nap my mind kept wondering back to these potential hazards and how bad they were.

Which is why I purposefully caught my fingers in the trap - and concluded it was unlikely to have caused any lasting damage.

I'm not quite sure why I decided to put a dog biscuit in my mouth.

I suppose I wanted to see how much would have dissolved in her mouth before I hoiked it out, and whether it tasted very strongly of anything that could be bad. My conclusion was it didn't taste of very much and would take a fair bit of chewing to break it down. So - whilst I'm going to continue in my attempts to keep Olive and the food apart - I suspect it is less harmful than a salty crisp (not that she is getting any of them either).

My devotion to my daughter's comfort only goes so far - she had her one year jabs yesterday. I wasn't about to jab myself in sympathy, I did far too much of that to get her in the first place, on this she is on her own...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Ages ago I was approach by a journalist asking if she could pitch my baby-making story to a magazine. Yeah, I thought, not really expecting anything to come of it - I mean "woman has baby through IVF" isn't as compelling a headline as it would have been 35 years ago.

Then it got picked up and I was told a photographer would come round to my house. This took me back a bit as I realised my anonymity would be gone but then I looked at the photographer's website, and she was amazing. Who wouldn't relish the opportunity to be photographed by the same person who'd snapped Stephen Fry, Jarvis Cocker and James McAvoy? Besides, I was never going to book a family photoshoot (despite the photography studios on my road having some amazing props, like golden thrones, and scenery backdrops - hmmm, I think I might have just talked myself into it) and so this was my opportunity to get some professional pics.

The photoshoot happened in January, and then nothing.

Until today.

Holy shit! I got a full page photo.

In The Telegraph.

No chance of hiding that then.

So, regular readers: Hi, that is what my face looks like.

Folk who read the article and decided to pop over to have a look at the blog: Nice of you to come past, there is years of stuff on this blog so if you want to read more I suggest you cut through the dross and just click on the Highlights link to the left.

Relatives who found out about the blog through reading the article: ummm ... yeah. Please don't read the sex bits?

Old acquaintances who saw my massive pic and thought "Wow. She looks like that girl I went to school with": This is why I stopped using facebook - too many baby pics. But congratulations on your broods.

I feel a bit sick.

Be gentle with me.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

How to fake a first Birthday Party

1. Go on holiday the day after your daughter's first birthday and decide, as a result, that she doesn't need a birthday party.

2. Holiday with a bunch of other people. In total 12 adults and 13 children.

3. Ensure that one of the people you go on holiday with has a birthday during the week.

4. Plan a big birthday tea for said individual including cake, candles and birthday banner.

5. Go through the bag of hand-me-downs that one of your friends has brought along from when her two daughters were little. Find a pretty party dress.

6. Plonk your child under the birthday banner.

7. Take photo.

Tah-dah!!!! Something for the photo album, and she'll never know she didn't have her very own birthday party.

You ... you won't tell her will you?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Best Year Of My Life?

I'm always really suspicious of people who claim that a specific day was the best day of their life.

They usually choose a spectacular day like their wedding day - neatly glossing over the fact that their dress rendered eating impossible, Uncle George spent the day groping the waitresses and their cousin passed out in the roses because someone had managed to convince his Mum the Pimms was a non-alcoholic fruity punch. Or it is the day their child was born - notice it is usually the blokes who go for this one - the women, *rrrriiiiiipppp* not so much.

I can't pinpoint one 'best day' but the ones that are up there are the spontaneous ones where a quick lunchtime drink unexpectedly turned into a day of drinking and debauchery and 1000 anecdotes were born (those days are long gone of course). Or the day I drove up into the mountains with a girl I didn't know that well from my Uni course and came back after a day of skiing in the sun with a new best friend who has remained one to this day.

Best years are a bit different because they span a longer time period so you expect some down days but the good out weigh the bad.

37 (my age, not the year - I'm not that old) I can, categorically state was up there.

I turned thirty seven two weeks after moving into a new house and two weeks later had Olive.

I'd never had a gap year, going straight to university from school and into continuous employment within weeks of leaving.  My maternity leave has been my gap year.

It has been brilliant. I've discovered a new part of London, started gardening, persuaded my twin to move one street away, made a bunch of new friends, not gone to work and - most importantly - hung out with my baby girl who is a happy little dude with a penchant for eating dog food (or trying at least), clicks her tongue when she is trying to communicate and like to scuttle round the house firmly gripping random items in each hand (this week's objects of choice = flooring samples meant for the bathroom).

On Monday I waved 37 goodbye.

I have no idea how 38 can possibly live up to last year's impossibly high standards, but even if it just half as good it'll be bloody amazing.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Trying Again?

As intimated in this post I didn't want to wait too long before I give IVF another shot.

The husband and I have agreed that we don't want to do another full round of IVF so if I have another child it will either be thanks to one of the two frozen embryos I have left, or a unexpected natural conception (and if its the latter, and a girl, I'm totally calling her Phoebe - or Freebe).

Ideally a two year gap works but, holy shit, for a two year gap I'd need to get a wriggle on - I'd need to get pregnant in October.

I've not been idle. In January I went for another womb scrape to check the nasties that had hung around in there before hadn't reappeared - I got the all clear so last month I trotted off to the Doc to get a plan for the next round of IVF.

We were talking about timings and I mentioned I was still breast feeding - I knew I'd need to stop before IVF but what I hadn't counted on was that my Doctor wants me to have three period before the next round. Knowing how reluctant my periods are to show themselves she said that once I stopped breastfeeding I should give her a call and get some drugs to bring on a period about a month after then, then do that for two more months.

Immediately I started to panic wondering how quickly I could stop breast feeding and whether I could meet my self-imposed deadline of October.

Then I breathed.

There is no panic or rush.  My embryos are frozen they aren't getting any older.

More importantly I have the most amazing daughter already. I would love another child but if it doesn't happen I know how incredibly lucky I am to have one, specifically to have her. Why should I rush to stop breast feeding when she loves it? And she really does love the boob. There was I thinking noone could love my breasts more than the husband, she puts his passion to shame when she gleefully clamps on guzzling away. Maybe it is hereditary. So I decided to chill out and see when breastfeeding peters out naturally.

Then she got teeth.

And sharp, grabby finger nails, that like to dig into my soft booby flesh.

Today I called a halt to daytime breast feeding.

I can't see the nighttime feed lasting too much longer either.

I don't think I'll quite make the October deadline to stop feeding and have three periods but I might not be too far off.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Is this a meme? It feels like a meme. It could be a meme.

Today I got round to sorting through some of Olive's clothes putting aside the ones she has grown out of. They'll go in the loft because, who knows, we might need them again one day.

Despite her having them for, at the most, eight months I felt a tinge of nostalgia as I folded up some of my favourite clothes. Things that I remembered her wearing at key points in her young life.

I couldn't believe this was the last time she'd wear some of them, and I remembered a trend I'd noticed on Pinterest recently of people recreating their childhood photos.

We could totally do that:

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A Fictitious Conversation With My Daughter


"Yes, sweet cheeks?"

"I love you"

"I love you too darling"

"I mean I really, really love you"

"I know"

"In fact, I love you so much that..." secretive, mischievous smile "I have decided I want another Mummy."


"Not instead of you, silly. As well as you. Listen, I've worked it all out and it'll be brilliant.

"And it isn't just for me. YOU. ARE. GOING. TO. LOVE. HER

"You know how you really like hanging out with your female friends having tea and cake? Well, this will be like having a best friend with you all the time, and you can do all sorts of things together, every day, which will be really, really fun.

"Now, she will be a bit younger and probably cuter than you. So you might find that when your friends come round they are suddenly more interested in chatting to her. But it is only because she is new, they still love you, you just aren't quite as interesting.

"Obviously because she is has only just arrived I might have to spend a bit more time with her than with you, to begin with anyway, just to help her find her feet and know what is going on. So I might not be able to give you my full attention any more.

"You look concerned.

"I know what you're worried about. Don't be.

"Daddy will absolutely adore her too. He'll give her lots of kisses and cuddles - just like he gives you now.

"This is going to be FANTASTIC."

Is it any wonder children get jealous of new siblings?

I'm thinking I should start trying for number two sooner rather than later to hopefully sneak one in before Olive becomes fully sentient and twigs what is going on. Luckily I have two embryos on ice so I have a head start on my next round of IVF, the next step is to work out exactly when to plunge back into that drama.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

What they never told you about having a child

There is a time in every infertile-turned-parent-blogger's life when we are compelled to write the obligatory "what they didn't tell you about being a mother" post.

These posts generally take one of two routes:

1) The graphic "what has this done to my body" route? Why did no one tell me about stitches/ hernias/ incontinence/ droopy boobs/ leaky boobs etc. Possibly my friends who have had babies lack any sense of shame, or boundaries, but I was pretty clued up on the whole physical side effects of birth. I mean, don't get me wrong I was as shocked and revolted as anyone else the first time I heard that many women shit themselves when giving birth ... when I was 11. But nothing much has surprised me from that side.

2) The slushy "I never knew I could feel this way" post. In which the blogger rhapsodises about how they thought they had known love before but nothing could prepare them for this out-pouring of love and devotion that they feel now they are a mother. This has annoyed me in the past and annoys me now. Don't get me wrong, I am well aware that I have done my fair share of infatuated blogging since having Olive but I was prepared to feel like this. How I feel about her is everything I ever imagined, but it is just that - what I imagined.

Remember when Maeve Binchy died? There was an article about whether her writing would have been better if she had experienced motherhood? The article is here.

The final paragraph is the killer:
"Binchy, whose first novel was about a 20-year friendship between two women, didn’t need the experience of motherhood to write about love and friendship in a way that charmed millions. But she might have dug deeper, charming less but enlightening more, had she done so."

Frankly the article says more about the journalist's lack of imagination than the author's.

You pretty much know that having a baby is going to result in sleepless nights, cleaning up every body fluid known to man (and a few as yet unidentified) and you don't even get a decent conversation out of it.  All that work for the reward of a few smiles - some days not even them? Of course you are going to love them deeply, irrationally, totally and completely. Babies wouldn't makes it past the first three months if this didn't kick in.

So this post is a relentlessly practical one. Things that I genuinely never knew. Discovering them (mostly through the help of my NCT buddies who share these hidden secrets) has revolutionised child rearing.

A) Why baby's vest are made like that.

See the neck line of this vest? You know the overlapping bit at the side?  I assumed that was to get them easily over a babies head. Makes sense right?

And then that day happens. The day when you wake up to a literal shit storm. It is everywhere; up the back, pooling in the foot, hidden in every fat roll, and smeared over the inside of the vest.  The last thing you want to do is pull it over your little one's head. That is where the genius of these little neck holes come into their own.

Because, you don't take the vest over the head... you open it and pull it off over their hips.


But no one ever tells you that. You heard it here first.

B) Nappies.

Nappies are pretty easy to put on, right? As long as they aren't back to front, or inside out you are laughing. Or so I thought. Then I realised there was one extra adjustment needed to ensure the perfect seal (to stop that shit storm described above happening).

Nappies have a sort of frill inside them. When you put the nappy on rather than tucking the frill in, like so:

Flick it out, like so:

If I have saved one person the hell of a leaky nappy my job here is done.

C) Sleeping through the night

What would you say constitutes "sleeping through the night"? I would have thought it was pretty obvious it is when the baby sleeps from when you go to bed until you wake up (with a half hour leniency either side). Apparently not.

If your baby sleeps in a continuos stretch for five hours this is counted as sleeping through. This means that if your baby goes to sleep at 7pm and then wakes at midnight, or sleeps from 10pm to three am, that counts as sleeping through the night. Which is clearly insane.

In theory based on that Olive has slept through the night on several occasions. She isn't a bad little sleeper but still needs a boob feed at about four in the morning to push on through until six thirty (which I still count as night time). On the plus side the clocks go forward at the end of this month so maybe I'll get the luxury of a lie in until seven thirty, but I'm holding out for that night when she doesn't need her midnight snack. Then, and only then, will I consider her having slept through the night.


Too much baby talk? Read this before you comment.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Snide Comment

Today I received this comment on my blog:

Officially deleting from my reading list. So sad that once a person becomes a parent they no other thoughts [sic] than baby.....guess you won't have anything to think about in 18 years.


I have no problem with people not wanting to read this blog any more. I have a baby - I am where many, many people who started to read this blog want to be. I've reached the finish line.

I fully expected people to stop reading. I wrote about that here way before I even got pregnant.

But you don't need to tell me! What possible motivation do you have for leaving such a snide, bitchy little comment? 

You'll notice that the number of posts I write has dropped off dramatically. Partly this is because I am too tired and my free time is too limited to write but also I find myself hovering over the publish button. Is it too much? Do my readers really want to hear more ramblings about the joys - and sometimes the lows - of being a mummy? So another post goes unpublished.

And let's be clear: when I was trying to get pregnant I had lots of other things going on in my life other than infertility. I didn't write about it because that wasn't the nature of this blog. Now I have less going on - things do revolve around my baby, I am on maternity leave and I have to look after her 24 hours a day but that doesn't mean that I have "no other thoughts than baby", but they are what I choose to write about.

But don't worry I will have plenty to think about in 18 years.

In 18 years I will still be thinking about my daughter, in 26 years I will still be thinking about her, in 37 I will still be thinking of her. But not exclusively. I am sure I will still have other things to do and think about, as I did before her and I do still now.

Do you know what I think would be worse than writing about my daughter? If I continued to write blog posts that whined about being infertile. About how mothers who got pregnant easily can't relate to my "struggle". How I am still infertile even though I have a baby and people should understand that having a child doesn't wipe away the years of hurt. (It does by the way - there is still a small stain but so much of the pain of the last seven years has been eradicated - and I'm telling you that as encouragement not to boast). 

I once read a post on another blog - again way before I got pregnant - in which the new mother asserted that infertiles loved their babies more than people who got pregnant easily. This is utter, utter horseshit. That made me stop reading the blog in question (and I just stopped; I didn't comment). The only discernible difference I have noticed between mothers who found it easy to get pregnant and those who didn't is some (SOME!) will talk more readily about when they want to get pregnant again to get the perfect age gap between their children.

So dear readers, who have supported me and seen me through the very lowest of times - thank you. If you choose to move on I totally get it. 

I would. 

I have in the past.

But don't tell me! 

Right, maybe I'll go back and publish some of those written but unpublished posts.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Half year Birthday

Olive turned six months old on the 31st of January. My little girl is getting older.

The last few weeks have seen Olive's most significant lifestyle changes since she swapped her womb-room for the bright lights of the labour ward.

For the first five month of her life not a lot changed in her little world, she ate from the Mummy Dummy, slept (if I'm lucky) in a cot next to my bed and saw the world whilst strapped firmly to my chest in a baby carrier or tucked up in a pram in my eyeline.

Two weeks ago I gave her proper food for the first time. I say proper food, I mixed baby rice with ten parts boob juice according to instructions, which resulted in ... um ... breastmilk that you feed a baby with a spoon.

Since then I have lovingly roasted nuggets of sweet potato, pureed organic parsnip with home -made, salt-free chicken stock. I've mashed bananas despite my ingrained loathing of the fruit, its smell and texture. I've mixed a little apple juice into the steamed pears to make a more palatable consistency. I've even made a shit-ton (actual measurement) of bread sticks without salt - such is my devotion to her dietary needs, putting that above taste and flavour.

In return I've watched the little lady stick her hands in the food, smear it on her cheeks, in what little hair she has, even occasionally it'll go in her mouth before being spat out with a look of total and utter disgust.

But some of it has clearly gone down. Who knew poo could smell of pear?

Not content with introducing her to food I have also banished her from our bedroom. For the last three nights she has slept in her own room.

I've hated it.

Not being able to roll over and hear her little nighttime snuffles or prod her to make sure she is still breathing has been a wrench. She is growing away from me, and it seems to be affecting me more than her. On the plus side though, now I get to decorate a nursery and possibly for the last time I'll have free reign to design her whole room without any pink or input from her.

Finally she has graduated from pram to buggy. From facing me to facing the world. Although I have perfected a hunched back lopsided walk that allows me to peer into the pram whilst I push it.

Olive seems unphased by these developments. I, on the other hand, am wondering if there is a way to harness Peter Pan's ability and prevent her growing up.