To Farewell or Not Farewell

From time to time in the past year (or longer) I’ve thought of this blog, in its dusty little corner of cyberspace. There’s been times when I’ve wished for the time and/or patience to blog, and times when I’ve wondered if it’s simply time to pack it all away. For years this was an unparalleled outlet; a source of comfort, advice, friends, and even now it’s an archive of details for us to look back on. When I started this blog, back in 2007, we had little support in the real world. Facebook, for us, was in its infancy, and the whole baby making concept was a difficult discussion with my family at least. Things have come such a long way. Through this blog and this wonderful slice of the internet, we’ve “met” some amazing people from all around the world – heck we’ve even actually met two of them! Back then I couldn’t find any fellow kiwis, but now there’s a couple on my reader and if I look hard enough I can spot a whole lot more. What this blog has done for us is indescribable, and, to the majority of the people we know inconceivable. But it was our sanctuary through so much.

Life is very different now. Family relationships are, as always, constantly changing, but since the birth of our boy we have had immense support. It’s not all pretty, but we have learned who is truly there for us both in family and our friends. We have forged some strong relationships that are priceless in themselves, and we have learnt (well are learning) what is important and what should be left to the breeze. Life with our 3 and 3/4 year old is incredible, loving, funny, busy, tough, relentless and pretty much any other adjective that you can come up with.

Three months ago I had decided to say a proper farewell to this blog. I don’t even know who is around to still read it, the stats tell me people still stop by and I know at least of at least a couple of readers out there, but I know that like me, most people who were ttc a few years back have either moved on and/or are busy with their new realities. And that’s okay – I still read a handful of blogs on my reader, but I rarely comment myself anymore. Facebook is now much more my speed, and I am happy to have a community there to continue following each other’s stories. I’m not even sure now that I am saying goodbye, it’s a new year after all and who knows what will happen. Right now for example, I’ve been bitten by the writing bug again, I’m just not sure that this is the right outlet for it.

For now though, here’s some things that I’ve missed sharing this year:

  • Sprocket has completed a whole year of kindergarten. It has been amazing, his teachers are incredible, he loves it, we love it…there is just a whole lot of love going around. He also started at a preschool in October and his kindy teachers even pick him up from there in their lunch break to help us out. Did I mention we love them?
  • Sprocket is continuing to grow and thrive, he’s pretty much all kid now – no baby left. He loves music and he loves to sing, and has inherited his Mummy’s gift of making up songs on the run much to our amusement. He is smart (sometimes too smart), logical and thoughtful and I thank everything for google on my phone some days – he can smell a made up answer a mile away. He is incredibly active, and we know we have to give him plenty of outlets to keep us all sane. He continues his love affair of all things wheels, cars and trains continue to be his favourites, although he is starting to get into the big boy world of superheroes (spidey and superman are number one at the moment). He can eat cereal like nobody else – he has been known to throw back 6 weetbix for breakfast and we are already despairing for our grocery bill in a few years time. Like us, he is a water baby, and we have been out enjoying summer the last few days at the beach, the pools, the river, and today with a water fight at home. He can be incredibly frustrating, stubborn, mischievous… in short a fairly typical nearly four year old!
  • Our relationship with BD is great. Sprocket loves talking to Daddy on sky.pe, and even got to have a sleepover with Daddy and his nearly 5yo cousin at BD’s parent’s house last June when we were visiting. We are so grateful for the relationship we have with him, it is both exactly what we wanted and beyond our expectations. If anything, we would like to physically see more of him but life just gets in the way sometimes.
  • K has been doing an amazing job of being a Masters student this year, getting at least an A- in all of her papers. Now she’s neck deep in her dissertation and racing to get it done before school goes back at the end of the month. There has been a lot of “stuff” happening in the past several months which has meant she hasn’t been able to concentrate on it as much as she would have liked, but I have no doubt that she will still kick ass.
  • Speaking of K, remember that last post of mine? Well my awesome wife has lost about 25 kilos since March last year! That’s 55 pounds for those that deal in them! She has also started running for the first time in her life, and even ran a 6km and 12km race with an awesome friend supporting her all the way. We are close to hitting that golden number given by the doctor, so that waiting list is within reach.She has been such an inspiration to so many people, and I am so proud of her.
  • In addition to working towards the waiting list, we also have started the process for becoming foster parents. It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time, and we were determined to make the most of the time flexibility of this year to complete the required training courses. Now we are awaiting our home visit sometime in the coming weeks before the final sign off.
  • As for me, well somehow I ended up back at work. After being a stay at home Mama for 3.5 years, I still wasn’t looking but then an unmissable opportunity fell in my lap in the form of a 4 month, name your own hours, not-a-real-vacancy position which is pretty much what I was doing prior to Sprocket came along. It was a really hard decision, I wasn’t ready to go back to work but after a 3 year gap on my cv it was too good to pass up. It was a bumpy road for the first few weeks as Sprocket settled into a new preschool, got used to me being gone, K got used to doing the drop off and pick ups, plus the major disruption to her study schedule/capabilities at a pretty crucial time. It has ended up being fantastic for me though, and with less than a month left on my contract I am lucky enough to have everyone (my staff, colleagues, senior management, and my wife) wishing I could stay on but that remains to be seen – comes with the whole not-a-real-vacancy thing.

Overall, this year has been a mixed bag. The last few months in particular have been tough with some pretty horrid lows, but there have been some great highs mixed in there too. Our lifestyle change this year has afforded us the opportunity to make some big changes, and reassess some other things. This next year is yet to play out but I hope that some of the lessons we have learnt will stay with us and help us through whatever is to come.

Who knows whether I’ll be back here to blog again, but if I’m not then I thank you for whatever part you have played in our journey towards our baby, even if it is just as a silent reader. The writing of this blog has been a bigger part of me than I ever expected way back when.

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Number Two

A couple of months ago we received our annual bill from the clinic for sperm storage, which meant once again we had to decide what we were going to do with it – continue paying $250-odd per year in case we try again or let it go and if by some miracle we did try again, ask BD to do another donation. 

Some of the factors influencing this are:

– we wouldn’t be bothering with any more IUIs. They didn’t work the first time round, they are still out of our reach financially right now and we feel like it would just be wasting 10% of potential IVF costs if we did try them. Short of winning lotto, the chances of us being able to afford another round of IVF + ICSI in the next couple of years is slim. If we did have the money, we would be making a conscious decision to take it out of our (currently non-existent) house fund and/or Sprocket’s future. It was all fine and well making that decision when we were desperate to have one child, but it’s a little harder now we have Sprocket to consider – we know all too well that there are no guarantees, even with IVF.

– this year with K as a Master’s student, money is a lot tighter as we are also paying back her new student loan, so $250 is a big chunk out of our budget

We made some calls to the clinic and found out that it would cost us a couple of thousand if we were to scrap the current sperm and start afresh, but also that our sperm is set to “expire” in just 3 more years. We knew a little bit about the HART act and how it applied to anonymous donors but for some reason we didn’t realise that it affected us as well. In a vague nutshell they are only allowed to keep/use anything within a 10 year period of the donation, to go outside of this means applying to the ethics committee for exemption and is a whole other rigmarole. 

We also asked about public funding, which I at least thought of as a longshot, as we were on the waiting list for this when K did get pregnant from our 2nd privately funded IVF round. They couldn’t answer then and there so we were put on the waiting list for an appointment so we could be scored for that.

The appointment came up for yesterday, Mother’s Day, at 8am – we weren’t sure if this was a good omen or not! 

We had to take Sprocket with us due to the time of the day, and that it was Mother’s Day, so it was a little awkward when we weren’t the only ones in the waiting room. Luckily the other couple were taken through fairly quickly and it was just us. Our fertility doctor came out and greeted us like long lost friends, shaking hands with both of us and then Sprocket. Neither of us were prepared for the emotion of that moment, watching our son shake hands and interact with him, but it was very special and reminded us how far we’d come since those dark, desperate days.

The start of the appointment was a general catch up and recap of Sprocket’s birth, and then he asked if we wanted another. Lol yep, kind of why we were there! At first he said there was no chance of funding, but then he remembered that we have paid for everything privately with Sprocket, and haven’t yet had any public treatment, so he started doing the score sheet. A big part of the scoring was obviously around fertility history, and K scored highly for having a serious biological reason for infertility. He paused to tell the trainee doctor that was with him about how bad her endometriosis had been and how he remembered the resection operation in detail because it was very tricky (stage 4 and at the time one of the worst cases he’d seen, which clearly hasn’t changed four years on). Basically, because of the degree of seriousness, the proven infertility of 12 IUI and 1 IVF failures prior to the operation and then the  excellent response to IVF after the operation, K does qualify for public funding. 

This is amazing and such a huge relief, but we’re not completely there yet. K has to reduce her BMI before being put on the waiting list, and then the waiting list can be anywhere from 12-18 months long. Throw into that the fact that you have to be under 40 to receive publicly funded treatment, and it means that we have a strict timeframe in which to lose weight in order to make it onto the list in time for her round to come up prior to her turning 40 in 2016. But it is doable. We are both already seeing benefits from some lifestyle changes the last couple of months and this is just some really kickass motivation. For the record, our sperm timeframe runs out in 2017 so this would all be perfect timing! Closer to the actual IVF round, she would have some more testing done such as AMH, but in the meantime her day 2 bloods were all perfect which is good news. 

Absolute best case scenario would be a publicly funded (i.e free to us) IVF round which yields both a pregnancy and freezable blastocysts which would then be transferred succesfully for a 3rd child later (again free to us as that would stem from the same IVF round and therefore be covered under that funding). Of course this is getting a bit ahead of ourselves, we’ve so far had no freezable blasts from two IVF rounds but it’s an amazing dream and so much more that we dared to hope for 2 days ago. For the many frustrations we have with our healthcare system, it’s times like these we freaking love it!

We’ve also got some other things on the go, it’s still in our minds trying at home with BD but this is proving very difficult logistically. It’s now 16 months since our first and only attempt at this, with no firm plans for the next little while either. We have also been looking into foster care, and have the application forms sitting on our dining room table right now. It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time, and it feels like the right time to at least complete the application/training side of things this year while K is a bit more flexible with her time. Yay for student life – and speaking of which, my clever wife has also earned A’s for her first two assignments so far, with two more having been due the last few days.

 

 

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Kindy Boy

Right now it is 3am and K has just been taken by ambulance to the hospital with her heart playing up again, I’m wide awake thanks to the caffeine in my migraine pills that I took earlier, the cats are fighting in the lounge and the dog is pissed off that her night time routine of sleep, sleep and more sleep has been severely disrupted tonight. So perfect time to update the blog!

Firstly K is okay, her heart slips into a different rhythm periodically and needs a hospital visit for medication and/or threat of being shocked to right itself. It happens in times of high stress and exhaustion and the fact that she was still up at 2am working probably clues you in that both of those are happening at the moment. She has been working ridiculously hard trying to get things at work set up for her study leave, and this week is particularly bad as she is planning to take the next couple of weeks off before uni starts. 

Sprocket is doing fabulously, he has been going to kindy for the past 3 weeks and absolutely loving it. It is a battle to get him to leave most days, and he has never had any problems with me leaving him there. I’m sure he thinks that he should, he has taken to asking me to stay there with him but it’s more like “don’t go mama stay at kindy with me okaythenbyeseeyoulater mwah” before I even get a chance to say anything. I do get the most awesome hugs when I pick him up, and I am really appreciating the break I get even though it’s only an hour or so at home by the time I walk there and back. He started with two of his mates, and although they don’t always play together they are super excited to see each other every kindy day and they do kind of keep an eye on where each other is which is cute. Sitting still at mat time is a big learning curve for our busy boy, and the teachers soon learned that they needed their running shoes on to catch him as he took off outside the first few days but he is getting much better now. Last week I was there in time to see him coming inside on his own and sitting down on the mat, and even if he sees me arrive he now waits patiently until he is released from the mat by the teacher – seems amazing after only a couple of weeks! He’s taken a big shine to painting and loves having access to the paints every single day. Most days that’s the first thing he does before going off to explore, then he obviously goes back to it throughout the session as he always has paint on his clothes at pick up time! He has been very tired, which is not surprising with all the new routines and learning he has had to do, so we have had some rough days in between but it really has been awesome on the whole. We knew he was ready, and although he’s much younger than most of the kids he has settled in perfectly and we’re so glad that he got in 3 months early. 

We have now got rid of all remnants of baby in the house, his change table has finally gone from his room and his train table has been moved in. He is only wearing nappies at night now, has all of his 2 year old teeth, talks up a storm with lots of stories and made up songs, fancies himself quite the entertainer (he will stand up in front of you and proclaim “welcome to my show” and then “thank you, thank you very much” with nods and bows). It turns out he has inherited K’s hilarious sleep talking habit, as tonight he had a big conversation with me about how we were flying on a giant butterfly through a waterfall, past a rainbow and on to a picnic with the crickets that live in our lawn. His eyes were closed tight the whole time and it was difficult not to laugh at him although he probably wouldn’t have noticed if I had. He still gets nightmares a fair bit, especially if it’s very dark and his night light isn’t on (it ran out of batteries a couple of weeks ago for example) but he is now starting to be able to talk about them with us which has led to some interesting conversations too. He balks at being called “baby” and he’s a big boy now, except when he is pretending to be a little baby and wants to be rocked. Other favourite things to pretend to be are a cat, dog, snail (complete with pillow for a house), caterpillar and lately a tractor. Sometimes even a tractor pretending to be a cow (yes Cars is one of his favourites). 

Next week BD is coming to stay and K & I are very excited…for one reason or another it has been just over a year since we have seen him. Sprocket is big on families and calls all of his friend’s dad’s Dad (although he calls the Mums Mum too as that’s what the others do), so we are looking forward to having a face to put to our family story, as I doubt he remembers much from the last visit. I never blogged about it, but at the start of last year we had one go at ttc#2 at home and we were hopeful that we may have tried more last year but it wasn’t to be. We won’t be trying this visit, but hopefully we get to talk about where to next as the trying through the clinic is a big financial no-no right now. 

Then the week after that we are going away to the beach for a few nights thanks to an offer of very cheap accommodation at a friend’s bach. We are so excited about this, the last beach holiday we had was before Sprocket was born, and since then we’ve pretty much only been to stay with family and friends a handful of times. Bring it on!

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Where did my baby go?

So in just 6 weeks, our big boy will be starting Kindergarten! Wow, a little earlier than we expected, but so exciting.

Kindergarten generally starts at 3 over here, there are private early education centres that take all ages but we preferred a traditional kindergarten and are lucky that there is a great one within walking distance. When we enrolled him a couple of months ago we were told that they have taken some as early as 2 years 9 months but with the number on the waiting list it would be pretty close to his 3rd birthday in April. Two of his best friends are also enrolled at the same place and being slightly older they were just ahead on the list. This morning we met them at the zoo and found out that they had just got the call and were starting on the first day of the new school year, January 22. We knew Sprocket wouldn’t be too far away and less than 10 minutes later K rang to say we’d just got the call too so all 3 boys are starting the same day which is awesome. Apparently some on the waiting list weren’t ready, but these 3 definitely are so they jumped ahead. He had a ball when we went for a visit a while back, and a big tantrum when it was time to leave, so I’m sure it will be much harder on us to leave him there. The kindy had a great feel though, and even though they were busy every teacher made a point of at least smiling and saying hello to us. They are very community oriented and parents are welcome any time, for as long as they want, which is stark contrast to some of the other places around. The added bonus is that even though he only qualifies for his free 20 hours education* when he turns 3, the local kindergarten association will cover the fees until then so it still won’t cost us a cent. Even though it starts out just as 3 afternoons a week, it’s hard to believe that his introduction to the education system is coming so quickly. There’s not really much baby left in him; naps are long gone, his last molar is 3/4 through and he’s pretty much toilet trained himself the last few weeks, so I guess this is just the next step!

Next year is going to be so different for us, with Sprocket at kindy and K as a full time Masters student after she won an amazing grant/award that gives her one year’s leave from work to study..at full pay! Such a clever girl she is:)

 

 

*In NZ every 3,4 and 5 year old child is entitled to a subsidy of 20 hours free Early Childhood Education which can be used at playcentres, kindergartens, daycare centres, or some in home childcare programmes. 

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Foto Friday Catchup

I’m a little behind but here are the last two Foto Friday assignments, Sweater Weather and The Scent of Autumn, adapted of course to the southern hemisphere.

Sweater Weather (or not):

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We have had some beautiful Spring days later, and have been really enjoying being outside. Our boy is embracing the freedom that comes with  learning to dress and undress yourself and it’s a struggle some days to keep a bare minimum on him. One day last week he whipped off his clothes and nappy, not an uncommon occurrence over the past few months. I said to him as usual that if he didn’t wear a nappy he had to use the toilet. Expecting that this would last the rest of the day and then he’d want to wear his nappy again he next day as usually happens. But no, this time there was no looking back and we found ourselves a little surprisingly potty training. I guess it’s true what they say: when you’re ready you’re ready, and it turns out he definitely was!

The second part is The Scent of Autumn:

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This afternoon, at the end of another long hot day, we had some thunderstorms roll into town. I love that smell in summer, the change in the atmosphere as the clouds approach, the smell of the sizzling asphalt as the drops start to hit, and the pure freshness once the rain has cleared. Sprocket and I sat on the edge of our patio swinging our legs, just barely undercover as it hit, him in only his undies busy telling me what a lovely day he was having. Love.

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Foto Friday – Sunset

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I haven’t managed to remember to get the camera out at sunset this week, we’re early into daylight savings time so it is around Sprocket’s bedtime. Tonight I almost remembered too late, so it’s not too impressive but you do get a small taste of my wife’s very impressive roses to go with it!

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Creepy Crawlies – Fall Foto Friday

One of the many challenges for me personally in parenting a curious small person is where my aversion to all things creepy and crawly crash headfirst to his attraction to the same.

When I was growing up I used to have no such qualms, spending hours hunting through scrap wood with my best friend looking for all sorts of bugs and beetles. Some of our best summer afternoons were when we found dozens of slaters and then raced them one on one until we had the supreme winner. I’m not sure when exactly this changed, nor am I sure that my wife even believes I was ever like that as my dislike of insects is now so strong. My instinct is to freeze, flick and flee.

Stronger than this fear however, is the belief that the last thing I want to do is pass this fear onto my son. This is how I end up with spiders crawling up my arms, eyeballing a praying mantis, admiring an ant trail or spending an entire morning keeping track of a snail as it makes its way slowly up our fence. Despite my internal screams of “noooooooooo”.

In two of the pictures below you can’t even see the tiny spiders, but trust me they were there, accompanied by an excited call of “Mama come look!”

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