Marks for NYR progress

NYE-R2You know how you have that week where it’s supposed to be quiet and it’s not? I’ve had two of them in a row, which is how I choose to start the analysis of how those pesky New Years Resolutions are going:

1. Draw in Journal

Michelle started well with good intentions then got sidetracked with other things and the journal she specifically bought, sized to fit in her handbag so she could carry anywhere and draw at whim, has now become a “To Do” list of sorts, featuring sporadic scribbles (usually done whilst on the phone or when listening to her online classes that she’s trying to catch up on). Disappointing. 5/10

2. Massage once a month

You’d think this would be an easy one but it has proved to take rather more thought and action than anticipated. The score so far is 2 massages over the past 4 months but she has made a booking for number 3 next week. Better than expected. 7/10

3. Body Balance/Yoga classes

Like all things, Michelle started with enthusiasm then completely lost it. However, she has started swimming laps so technically she is still doing something for her health that is relatively stress-free on her body whilst toning muscles. Of course, we wait to see how her progress goes now that cooler weather is here. Satisfactory. 8/10

4. Keep criticisms to self and give out love and acceptance

Woeful. Hardly attempted. Has resorted to yelling/sighing loudly/rolling eyes whenever Kat from MKR is on the screen. Made NIH watch Cinderella and conceded to view Fast and Furious 7 as payment. Rolled eyes so many times from implausible scenarios/terrible lines almost fainted from dizzy spells. Meanwhile, NIH was called to work halfway through movie and has asked for no spoilers, even if they come wrapped in sarcastic remarks. Tempted to give a zero but at least she is aware of her judginess even if she can’t seem to control herself. And did feel sad at dedication to Paul Walker at end of F&F7. 2/10

5. Write blog post once a week

Was doing well but has gone off the rails over the past few weeks. Blames workload. Suspect just disorganised. 7/10

6. Mini clean up/declutter once a week

Hmm. She did clean the ensuite bathroom today. And has finally got rid of the books/DVD’s/extra bibs and bobs that were marked for culling in the last clean up done 6 months ago. Fortunately NIH has done up a job board for the two young men who still live at home so perhaps future clean ups will just mean moving NIH’s shit from the dining room table to his desk. And her shit from the kitchen bench to somewhere else. She’s trying. 5/10

7. Bake Bread

Consistent effort throughout the past three months. Has settled into a pattern of baking which begins on Sunday night with getting the starter out to warm up overnight and ends on Tuesday night with baked bread out of the oven.

Number of loaves: 12
Number of times bread has been like a tasty brick that makes great crunchy toast: 10
Number of times bread has been fluffy goodness: 2
9/10 for effort

OVERALL MARK: 43/70 (61%)

That’s a pass, right?

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Memory Loss

Still-Alice-coverI forgot my mother’s birthday.

Well, technically, I didn’t forget it – I was just a whole month early for it. And when the mistake was pointed out to me (by my mother), it actually freaked me out.

I blame February’s 28 days for the mix-up but it should have registered that her birthday is just 8 days before my youngest son’s, not a whole month before.  It’s a semi-long and complicated story but the general idea is that I had two meetings in my calendar for the 16th of February and March and figured I could kill two birds with one stone by traveling to Brisbane early and spending time with Mum on the weekend for her birthday. Only thing is, the meeting is March is a teleconference and the one in Feb an onsite one. So in between all of that, I got a little mixed up.

But still …

It was a shocking moment when I realised my mistake. I was absolutely gobsmacked at my own stupidity. How could this happen? I’ve known my mum’s birth date for almost as long as I’ve known her! Am I losing my marbles? What is going on here?

There’s a movie out at the moment called “Still Alice” starring Julianne Moore. I haven’t seen it yet but I read the book by Lisa Genova a few years ago. It’s a brilliant yet terrifying read from the first person viewpoint of Dr Alice Howland, a noted linguistics professor at Columbia University who makes the devastating discovery that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  Everyone gets forgetful; loses keys; can’t remember someone telling them they were going somewhere etc. But it’s when she’s doing the same morning jog through the same streets she’s followed for years then suddenly coming to a stop in the middle of campus and not recognising anything that she realises there’s something more than simple forgetfulness going on.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to slowly lose yourself – but I think I had a taste of it the other day and I can safely say it is not a pleasant sensation.

I made jokes about it with the kids, asking for assurances that when I get to the point where I start forgetting to put my pants on and go wandering the neighbourhood, they’ll come and drag me back home and dress me.  Their response was along the lines of believing I should be free to do what I want and why stop me from entertaining everyone?

Little bastards …

 

 

“Finest bread I will provide until their hearts be satisfied.”

sourdough bread
I wish my bread looked like this …

My grandfather Arthur took up the hobby of baking bread in his later years (and, as we found after he died, stockpiling rolls of toilet paper in the back room cupboard but that’s another blog entirely).

His bread was good. So good that, as uni students, my cousin and I would convince him to make us a loaf each when we’d go back to uni from holidays. It made the best toast ever as it was slightly more dense than normal bread and had the distinct flavour of sourdough from the starter he used. We lamented the loss not only of Pa but his bread when he died and it was something so distinctive about him, my Uncle Terry found the lovely quote (and title for this blog) from a hymn and we put it on his gravestone.

My dad Peter also took up the art of baking bread in his later years and he too had a sourdough starter that worked really well.  He gave me one of my own which I used to his recipe with no problem until I went back to full time work and became time poor.  Starters need love and I just didn’t have enough to go around.

Ever since dad died five years ago tomorrow, I’ve been a little obsessed with getting back into baking bread and reflecting on past history, I wonder if it’s a genetic thing.

Baking bread takes time, patience and skill. The biggest issue I have is patience. I’ve never been a particularly patient person. If I wanted something, I went out and got it. And if I couldn’t get it? I lost interest or declared it wasn’t for me and moved on to something else.

You could say I was a bit of a quitter. I quit Girl Guides because I couldn’t go to the muster. I quit gymnastics because I had to get up early to go to classes (and the teacher was mean, slapping hands, legs or any other part that wasn’t doing what it should. I was 10 and didn’t have a strong desire to be a gymnast. Or to be slapped.).

I quit tennis. Playing the flute. Tae Kwon Do. University. Anything that got too hard, I found an excuse to walk away from.

I seriously panicked at about 5 months pregnant with my first child when it dawned on me that labor was something that was going to be difficult, painful, messy and out of my control.

And … I couldn’t just quit and walk away.

Long story short – I survived. She was gorgeous. And after her arrival, I started seeing projects through to their finish.

Getting back to my Year of Baking Bread … so far, it’s going pretty average.

I’ve made three loaves to date and each one has definitely resembled a doorstop.  The upside is that the loaf lasts a loonnngg time, even with young adult males in the house. One slice is enough to keep them happy for a while.

The downside is that it’s not doing what it should, goddammit, and I am not sure why and my patience is wearing thin.

Nooobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

nobodyExpectsTheSpanishInquisition

The Spanish Inquisition … when you least expect them.

Author’s note: The following is blatantly rejigged without the permission or knowledge of The Monty Python Flying Circus

Nooobody expects to have fertility issues! And here’s one thing you should never say to a woman trying to conceive: “Relax and it will all just happen naturally” ... and “But you’re still trying, aren’t you?”

Two! Two things you should never say to a woman trying to conceive: “But you’re still trying” and “Relax”... and “There’s always next time”.

THREE! Three things: “Always next time”, “Still trying” and “Relax”… and “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be”. 

LET ME START AGAIN!

I have a whole new respect for witches. Magic is hard to ‘make happen’ and despite all the science in the world, it still requires that little spark of magic to make a baby come to life.  As we’ve discovered over the past four years, magic can be very elusive and certainly out of our control.  But here’s the thing I find the most difficult about the whole process: other people’s comments. Which is why I tend not to say anything or if I do, brush it off with humour.

Once upon a time, I was probably guilty of saying any one of the following four quotes. After all, I already have three completely gorgeous, grown-up children. I’ve done this before. So why THE FUCK* can’t I do it now?? (Because I’m 45, that’s why. But hey, nobody said logic and babies in the same sentence without laughing, right? Just so we’re clear, my husband’s jiz is positively jumping out of the jar, it’s so fertile. And he’s got the lab report to prove it.)

So here’s my Top Four sayings that I would advise you to avoid if you’re trying to be supportive of someone struggling to have a baby:

1. RELAX AND IT WILL ALL JUST HAPPEN NATURALLY

Well, shit. Why didn’t I think of that? Seems so simple when you put it that way. But here’s the thing: this is a situation you have no control over. No control = stress (look it up. Scientific fact.) Stress = I can meditate all the fuck* I want and nothing is going to take away the anxiety of counting the days to get the timing right (and hey, here’s a tip for those currently trying – saying “Honey, I’m ovulating. Let’s do it. Now.” is not considered ‘sexy talk’ and usually has the opposite effect), then waiting for two weeks to see if anything happened.

Then there’s the fun-filled IVF road of jabbing yourself with needles every day for 10 days then going under a general anesthetic to be ‘harvested’ THEN hoping for a further five days that the little blighters fertilise/don’t start dying off/make it to transfer THEN waiting two weeks to see if anything happened.

You try relaxing under that kind of pressure.

2. BUT YOU’RE STILL TRYING, AREN’T YOU?

Ugh. Stab me in the heart, why don’t you? What are you ACTUALLY trying to say? Are we still having sex? “No, no, I thought since we can’t get pregnant, I’d go on the pill and take precautions. Or just say no to bedroom funtimes.” Stupid, stupid question.

Or in the case of failed IVF, do you mean will we immediately spend another $5000 and a full month on heartache, needle jabbing, hoping and praying? “Sure, sign me up for that shit again. I mean, I don’t think I suffered enough last time, you know?”

I understand you’re trying to be positive but the implication we take away from that question is that we HAVEN’T been trying.  And here’s an insider secret for you: even when we say we’re ‘not trying’ anymore … we still are. Until we get a baby, we’ll always be trying.

3. THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT TIME

Seriously? We’ve just been through hell and it’s not somewhere we’re keen to revisit … even though we will. Read previous response.

4. IF IT’S MEANT TO BE, IT’S MEANT TO BE

That kind of zen philosophy is not helpful at all. It’s kinda related to the ‘Relax’ response. Stress comes from having no control over a situation that directly affects you. If you and your partner decided you wanted a baby together but it’s not happening, even though you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on natural remedies, given up coffee and wine, exercised to get fit then finally turned to science and forked out thousands for a helping hand, being told that maybe it’s just ‘not meant to be’ personally makes me want to punch you. Hard. In the face. Don’t EVER say it.

Here’s the thing …

There is nothing you can say that will make it better. You are blissfully unaware (as my younger self was) of the struggles and heartache and despair these people go through EVERY SINGLE DAY.

So, my advice? Don’t even try. Don’t give them too much sympathy – they’re struggling to hold it together and you feeling sorry for them just makes it harder not to blubber like a … well, a baby.

Don’t talk about it – unless they bring it up first. Then possibly just listen and nod occasionally and say innocuous things like “I see” and “Really?”

Instead, give them coffee.

And wine.

It will be gratefully accepted and much appreciated.

*Sorry about the swear words, Ma

Life journeys

jamesjeanbatgirl

James Jean – Batgirl

My beautiful, strong-willed (and just a tad judgmental) daughter is heading south to a close school friends’ wedding tomorrow and she’s not happy about it.

Not happy because she really doesn’t like the groom. At all. And to be  honest, I can’t say I blame her. He is mean to his future wife, knocking her down with cruel words in front of others and blatantly attempting to flirt with all her girlfriends. Not a nice character, really. Being older and wiser in these matters, I can see that trouble will most definitely find her down the track and whilst my daughter most vehemently agrees, she can’t understand why her friend seems to be oblivious to the danger.

I can, though.

But even though I’ve tried to explain the whole concept of life journeys to her, it’s not the same as actually living through them.  It wasn’t until I was 40 that I feel like I ‘woke up’ and that was only after incredible trauma stemming from a marriage breakdown and my dad dying at the same time. Some people wake up earlier; some never do. Either way, your journey is completely your own. You may share the path with others for a short or extended time, but what you go through is entirely your own experience. Of course, we all know this to some extent but often it’s only in the theoretical sense, not the ‘feeling in your bones’ knowing.

So whilst I may give the speech of “It’s her life to do as she chooses, honey, even if you think he is a dick and most who has come into contact with him agrees with you. She has to walk this path on her own. “, my lovely, strong-willed and slightly judgie daughter won’t feel this in her bones until she’s got a few more years under her belt.

My dad always said it but the adage that ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ has never been more true to me. 

The cycle begins

Baby_bottle

Suck it up, sunshine

And not to put too fine a point on it, I’m a little bit crazy this morning … and the drugs haven’t even started yet.

One word of advice to any would-be IVF’s, especially over the age of 40. Don’t look at the internet. Don’t read the forums. Don’t look at the statistics (although you actually do have a far greater chance of getting pregnant than winning the Powerball jackpot tomorrow night, so that’s comforting to know).

The thing you have to remember is that someone usually does win. They do get lucky and for them, all the statistics are proven wrong.  I have personally known three much younger women who have tried IVF – two got lucky with their first round. The third struggled and proved to be hyperstimulated by the drugs and gained an incredible amount of weight in a very short time and was generally miserable for over a year, constantly beating her body into submission until finally – FINALLY – she got lucky.  I’d say there was a helluva lot of hard work and determination behind that particular ‘lucky’.

I’ve had one go. It really wasn’t that bad regarding the whole drug thing. I didn’t turn into a crazy woman because of them – felt quite normal, in fact. Normal, at that point, being stressed beyond your wildest dreams. I rather stupidly suffered freezer burn on my stomach because of a wayward icepack and the fact I’m not all that keen on feeling that goddamn needle piercing my skin. But physically, I’d have to say it was a breeze.

Mentally and emotionally … not so much.

My gorgeous NIH (the only person I would ever willingly jab myself with a needle twice a day for) and I recently went on our long and extravagant and totally fantastic honeymoon to Japan and Europe and on the tours, we met some truly lovely people … and a few stupid ones.

Now, I know people mean well and they’re trying to be helpful and positive but being told I just have to ‘relax’ and that will fix everything just makes me want to punch people in the mouth.

“Oh, really? That’s it? Gosh, I’m such a silly billy. I never realised.” :/

The truth is you meditate and do visualisations and work hard to just think that it all will fall into place and everything will happen the way you want and you’ll get that damn baby because goddamn it you’re so goddamn relaxed you’re almost comatose but then you go through the motions and everything looks ok and you only get 5 eggs harvested but hey it only takes one right so you hold onto that and remain positive and then they phone you on day 3 and say that one failed to launch altogether and two have since stopped cell dividing and one looks a little dodgy but there’s one, still one there and hey, you only need one, right? Right? And then you get the phone call on the afternoon of Day 4, the eve of the big Day, Day 5, where your one little egg is due to be put back in your basket and hopefully blooms and grows into a goddamn baby that will give you and the NIH who deserves a baby, who deserves a 6 a side soccer team of babies because he’s so fucking awesome with kids big and small and even your teenagers liked him when they were young and snotty and you love him so much it scares the crap out of control freak little you and  oh no oh kay that last egg you’d pinned all your hopes and dreams on has fallen over. *cue sobbing and promising each other you’ll never do this again*

And yet … a year later … here we are again.

But you know? I feel like I’m in a better place. As a couple, we are so much more stable and settled (possibly because I’m not so psycho and he’s not living WITH a psycho). Maybe, even though at my age the odds are against us, we’ll win the lotto.  At least I don’t feel like it’s the end of the world if I don’t win and I’m a little bit proud of myself for actually having another go, knowing now what I will go through.

Possibly that last paragraph was my false positives starting …Wish us luck 🙂

Eggs over easy, thanks.

Sperm-And-Egg-Cell

“This is Ground Control to Major Tom. You’ve not quite made the grade …”

This post is a little personal but hell, it’s my blog and I’ll share what I want to.

The NIH and I have been trying to reproduce for *oohh* about 3 years now and so far we’ve had several failures to launch … which, if you’ve read my previous post, you’ll understand has not been gracefully received by myself.

We had one go at IVF last year and it didn’t go well.  The drugs were fine. The jabbing myself or getting NIH to jab me with a needle every night was fine and the initial retrieval was pretty easy. I did get a freezer burn injury from holding an ice pack on for too long but that was just my stupidity.

However, the little guppies-to-be didn’t make it past Day 4 so we didn’t even get to transfer stage. Probably a blessing in disguise, as we had our wedding to plan in January and as a consolation prize for our trauma, we went on a 7 week honeymoon to Japan and Europe because we could.

But now we’ve recovered from the trauma; we’re back home and things are very calm and pleasant for both of us, we’ve decided to give it another go. And if this doesn’t work, we’ll look at egg donation because I’m edging over the hill and time is really running out.

I already have three grown-up children but NIH doesn’t have any and believe me when I say he deserves to be a Dad for all the right reasons 🙂  When we first started dating, he told me he wanted 5 kids. I choked on my coffee then sputtered that unless he counts my three as his and we have twins, it probably will never eventuate with me.  Now that we’ve gone through 4 miscarriages and one failed IVF, he’d settle for one.

I’m often asked why I’d want to have more. since I already have three and essentially I have my life back.  Sometimes, I’m not sure how to answer that myself.  I guess because my kids have all grown into gorgeous young adults whom I truly love, not just as their mother but as one human being relating to another.  Maybe because I’d love for NIH to experience that unshakably deep, overwhelming love and adoration of another little person even if they do decide to keep you up all night, throw up all over you and generally curtail your social life.  Maybe because I felt I had at least one more child in me (metaphorically speaking) but the ex was not happy with Number 3, let alone any more.  And because I want to experience raising a child with a dad who actually gives a shit about his kid and gets involved in their life.

But … how do you ask someone to donate a piece of themselves for you? My sister in law would do it no questions asked (in fact, she said exactly that when I told her) but she is only a couple of years younger than me.  The doctor suggested my daughter, since she’s 22, but no. I just … I couldn’t.

I don’t have BFF’s that are under the age of 37. I have quite a few acquaintances that would qualify and one in particular who has done IVF and knows the routine. But it’s such a big thing to ask!

I don’t like asking for directions, let alone asking someone to jab themselves for two weeks then go under general anesthetic to have their eggs retrieved.  I guess there’s two choices to make here – either I get over my embarrassment and humiliation … or I get NIH to do it.

Failure to launch

hueys001

Failure and I are not friends

Failure.

I don’t do it well. Not at all.  And I didn’t truly realise this until the last few years.

You see, I’ve always worked hard and most of the time, I got what I wanted. Or at least, if I didn’t get it, I pretended I didn’t really want it anyway and could write a story in my head of why, in fact, not getting what I wanted was a good thing and therefore not REALLY a failure at all …

Which is kind of what I’m doing right now, having failed to get my RE motorcycle learners licence even though I’ve done 5 lessons so far and have previously ridden a moped for a few years and know how to ride a bike safely.  The most humiliating thing is, I’d pretty much posted on Facebook that after today, I would be a card-carrying bikie chick and now, after everyone’s liked and commented, I have to say “Nuh. False alarm. I missed out by one mark” and all because I’m overly cautious combined with terribly hopeless at judging distance accurately.

Of course, when I put it in perspective it’s not such a big deal. I just do the test again and finish my prac. I know I can do it but now the storytelling is starting in my head …

“$650 to do a course and get a licence that you may not ever use because you don’t even have a motorbike and even if you do shell out money for one, will you ever ride it?”

But the competitive part of me is already saying “Well, shit. Next time you’ll know the answers. You can do this. Bugger the cost and the fact  you may never use it. At least you’ll have proved a point to yourself.”

But hooo boy, I’m pissy today!