Thursday, 12 May 2016

Seachange

I just dropped Pickle at her orientation for occasional care - a two hour session in preparation for one day in care a week.  I'm sitting in the library next door thinking what should I do with my time?  I have a long list of things that need doing, but the thing that crosses my mind most days, that I never seem to get to, is my blog. 

I thought I’d be able to update it at least every month – which is how often I update the blog I maintain for Pickle and her Grandparents, but something always seems to take precedence.  And then I thought I’d have time to do a ‘what happened in the last year’ post last month, but ended up being even more overscheduled than usual.  I cannot believe its been over a year since I last wrote, nor how much has changed since then.

Last January, when Pickle was nearly 8 months old we took a ‘holiday’ to Auckland to see family.  It was the usual pressured trip with lots of running around to try and spend time with everyone.  The last three days we drove to Tauranga to spend time with a family friend and have a couple of days relaxation by the beach.

We had originally decided to move to Melbourne and got the visa before I became pregnant with Pickle and our choice of Melbourne was mainly for the job market. When he announced we were moving to Australia, Mr Duncan’s employers declined his resignation and asked if he could just work for them from there.  And with Pickle coming along, I never started looking for clients in Melbourne and started slowly working on some small online businesses.

When we returned from our trip to New Zealand, Mr Duncan and I started discussing the idea of moving out of the city.  The housing market in Melbourne is extremely expensive and given we didn’t need to be close for work reasons maybe we should consider a seachange.  

I remember Bits And Peaces making a similar change, for similar reasons and it seemed to offer so much – more time for both parents to spend with the baby, more affordable housing, more stopping and smelling the roses…

So the end of last April, Pickle, Mr Duncan and I flew to Brisbane, rented a car and did an 800km road trip along the coast south to Coffs Harbour and back – checking out all the little towns that met our criteria of near the sea, with good schools, a good library, hospital and some level of tertiary education in town.

We found one village that really felt right and after re-examining similar places and property prices closer to Melbourne decided to bite the bullet and move again.  At the end of June Mr Duncan and all our stuff drove North for two days to move into a rental we took sight unseen over the internet.  Pickle and I flew up.

Its been nearly a year and we definitely are enjoying a slower pace of life with lots of building sandcastles and swimming in the sea.  Pickle is thriving and we've settled into a routine centred around the beach, local shops, playground and library.  We only get out the car for the weekly swimming lesson.

What else has happened?
  • We went to the UK for a month for Mr Duncan’s work and to see Pickle's grandparents.  This was an exhausting trip, totally not worth it and I don’t want to travel long-haul with Pickle again until she’s at least five - although it was nice to briefly meet up with some old friends.  We all got badly sick with flu from the return flights and spent a month recovering.
  • Not long after we returned from the UK, our landlords announced they wanted to move back into their house so we had to find a new place to live and move house again just before Christmas.  The property market is more expensive than our research had suggested and there is little supply so its taking us a lot longer to find a house to buy than we expected.  I’m simultaneously not looking forward to and looking forward to our next move.  At least the next move will be to our own house and we can stay in it for decades.
  • Mr Duncan’s parents came out to visit for a month in March.  I thought this would give me some respite – some time to update my blog maybe?  No.  Although they wanted to spend time with Pickle every day, they weren’t willing to do it without myself or Mr Duncan present – so we just ended up really overscheduled trying to fit in all the social stuff.
  • My Mum is coming to visit for a week next Tuesday to celebrate Pickle’s second birthday (and my fortysomethingth).  I just hope this trip goes more smoothly than the last one.  


Pickle updates
The speed at which these small people learn and grow is mindblowing.

  • Pickle started walking at 14 months, 2 days.  It was kind of unexpected as she hadn’t really been practicing walking.  She just stood up one day and took 14 steps across the back yard.  By the end of the week she’d stopped crawling completely.
  • We did baby sign language with Pickle from the start, and she was pretty good at letting her needs be known with her hands – “more milk” “up Mummy”, “finished”.  But in the past couple of months her speech has jumped from one-two word sentences to ten word sentences and decrees.  ‘Pickle wants Pickle’s daddy come home to Pickles house where he lives’ is one recent statement that sticks in my mind. 
  • And in news it feels hard to write down, Mr Duncan and I decided at the beginning of the year to see if we are lucky enough to give Pickle a brother or sister so have been working on clean eating, stress reduction etc.  I’m back on pre-conception supplements and seeing an acupuncturist.  I know our chances are not high, but they’re not impossible either.  Or thats what I keep telling myself.



Thursday, 2 April 2015

Ghost town

Marcy completely called it.  Yes it has also been a ghost town around here. Parenting an infant takes a lot of time and energy and I have been using what little time I have to myself to do stuff (or sleep) rather than write about stuff.

My IF feed has really slowed.  The fact is that most* of the IF bloggers I started to follow around the time of Poppy's loss have become mothers (congrats!) and I imagine are having the same time/priority conflicts as me.  I miss reading your words, but for me at least, along with less time, I have a diminished need to process my thoughts.

It annoys me about myself a bit, because that is why I found such comfort in this community in the first place - parenthood was so 'normal' and being excluded from it was so isolating.  And now I'm not excluded from it I have less to say (and less time to say it).

So that doesn't make me a very good contributor to the community.  Although I imagine many who are still working on it stopped reading a long time ago.  Like when I got pregnant.  Fair enough.

I still love to read about how things are going for others in the community, but make fewer comments... I'm still managing to find snatches of time to read because there are fewer posts...

Yeah I don't really know where I'm going with this.

*From a completely non-scientific sample of 'IF bloggers trying to conceive that I added to my reader' about the time that I started this blog, only 11.53% are still working on it.

---------

Here are pics of some of the things I've been spending my time/energy on when not tending to Pickle/trying to catch up on sleep.

Tending my bag-garden.  Rats from the building site next door (shudder) demolished all the tomatoes but I got some great bell and chilli peppers and loads of parsley, oregano, mint, spring onions and eggplants.
Making baby sleep sacks.  The green one with the middle zip is made from one of Pickle's old swaddling cloths.  The white one is lightweight fleece.  Pickle has nearly grown out of both of them now so I need to get to work on some more.



Upcycling onesies.  Pickle has long legs and is slender so her feet would start to get snug while the rest of the onesie fit.  I just sewed a bit of T-shirt collar on the bottom of the top for length rather than hemming.  I can't tell you how much easier it is to button up a top instead of pulling it over a small wriggly person's head.  



Making T-shirt yarn (hence the spare collar material for the onesies).  I'm in the middle of making a rug for Pickle's room.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Microblog Mondays: The Birds and No Bees

Despite our rental property having only paved outdoor space, I attempted a garden of sorts this spring.  

I had to leave all my plant containers in the UK (international pest control) and didn't want to spend a lot of money on containers given we plan to buy a property with a decent yard (not that we've found one we can afford in amongst all the infill housing and developer demand for 'luxury apartment' opportunities).

I'd seen patio gardens online where the containers were those re-useable polypropylene shopping bags. They are robust, water permeable, do not rot and ubiquitous in Australia. When I mentioned to a friend I was thinking of planting in them, she implored me to take a bag full off her hands. "They breed in my cupboards," she said.

I now have a mix of healthy plants-in-bags in our wee courtyard. 

My tomatoes are fruiting wonderfully, but my cucumbers are not being pollinated as there are no bees.  The birds on the other hand... so far every one of the tomatoes on each of my three plants has been devoured by birds before ripening.

I am somewhat shocked that I was more successful growing veg in soggy London than in such favourable conditions in Australia.

And it turns out the bags, which make such convenient containers in the UK, break down under the intensity of the Australian sun.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Revisiting guided meditation

Now that Pickle is six months old, I've been contemplating a return to work.  I have been self employed for most of the past 17 years, working long hours as an IT consultant but I don't think I want to go back to that life.  Pickle is too precious to me to only see on weekends!

Over the years I have kept a few journals.  Sometimes I write out what is churning in my head.  Other times I brainstorm possibilities for the future.  I tried many different types of guided meditation while trying to conceive and sometimes made notes on these.

Today I was leafing through an old journal today looking for what my Australia work ideas were and came across some notes on a meditation I did when I was still reeling from losing Poppy a few days earlier.

*************
The notes say

"I just did a meeting my spirit guide meditation on YouTube.

In the meditation I walked along a road, sealed, but with no cars.  The tunnel was like a train tunnel and the gate was a metal one like outside houses in London.  I wasn't aware of the surroundings.

I didn't *see* my guide but as I asked questions in my head, answers were given - like in a proper conversation.  I need to keep my head clear of monkey chatter so I can pay attention to my guide.

  • Her name is Alia like my friend.  
  • I need not to worry about having a child.  She will come to me.  I don't need to do anything different.  
  • My goal is to teach people - love and forgiveness.  I can carry out my goal in any way I choose including working in personal change or IT.
  • I need to go to Australia.  I need the sea and she said that I know that.
  • My guide will help me.  "Of course Lisa, that is what I am here for".  She will help with the physical tension and releasing energy blocks.  I need to open my chakras and allow my intuition to develop."
*************

I don't have a clear recollection of even doing this meditation.  To be fair I was pretty upset at the time.  It is interesting to me to see in retrospect that according to my subconscious, all those things I did to try to get pregnant were unnecessary.  If only I listened to myself...

I am glad we are in Australia, I do need to be near the sea.  I am thrilled Pickle came to us and wonder if I should be figuring out how to work towards my goal rather than how to return to work.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

So, what worked? - TTC edition

I know I'm very lucky in naturally conceiving and bearing a healthy first baby in my 40s.  I'm recording what I did here both for posterity and to remind myself of the hard work good luck often is founded upon.  I made a lot of effort to conceive Pickle and on those days when I start to wonder if I am not cut out to be a mother, I can remind myself of how much I wanted her and the effort I put into it.

For the record, I think IVF is an amazing tool however, at 40 it was strongly inferred that, although my numbers all came back okay, I was simply too old.  For that reason (and the fact I dislike the idea of unnecessary medical interventions) I didn't pursue the referral the doctor half heartedly offered but decided to do what I could to create an optimum environment in my body for conception.  If I fell pregnant, then good.  If not, I'd be in better health in my 40s than in any other time of my life.

Ha!  I say that like I was sane, but in fact I was like any other woman having difficulty falling pregnant... slightly obsessed.

I did a lot of reading on fertility and fertile health in both men and women.  I learned more about my cycle.  Until my late 30s I was unaware that my menstrual cycle could be straightforward and pain free.  I had always experienced extreme pain from cramping, dark blood and large clots.  I thought this was normal and just to be suffered.  It was eye opening to learn otherwise.  Seriously - this information should be taught to girls when they first menstruate instead of teaching them to self medicate with painkillers.

I started recording my basal body temperature each morning and learned I was still ovulating regularly.  I made changes to my (already pretty healthy) lifestyle to improve my cycle and the health of my eggs.  
  • I ate for fertility ensuring my diet was rich in nutritious foods.  On the advice of Emma Cannon's "The Baby Making Bible' introduced both red meat and home-made bone broth into my diet.  I started eating breakfast and cut out alcohol and sweets to promote stable blood sugar.  I bought a slow juicer and drank freshly made organic green juice every day.
  • Following the advice of Zita West and Marilyn Glenville, I took supplements (COQ10, Royal Jelly, Omega3, clover infusion, nettle tea, spirulina, maca, selenium) to improve my reproductive health.
  • I've never been one for cosmetics, but swapped my skincare products for olive oil soap and coconut oil as moisturiser to decrease my exposure to topical toxins.  I have to say my prone to eczema skin has never felt better.  
  • I stopped using the sauna and hot tub in the gym.  I can't remember why.
  • I was uncertain about acupuncture until I bought and read 'The Infertility Cure' by Randine Lewis.  I started seeing an acupuncturist and after only two treatments, my next period, for the first time in my life, was of the painless, bright red blood associated with fertile health.  I was thrilled to conceive Poppy the next time I ovulated after that.
  • I practiced meditation and yoga (as best I could) and fell asleep listening to the Circle and Bloom natural cycle fertility programme playing under my pillow every night.  
  • From a spiritual/energetic perspective I decided that if I wanted children in my life then I should have children in my life, so to that end I volunteered for the local cub scout troop each week.  I also made an effort to focus on creation and nurturing.  Starting a garden to nurture, inventing recipes to nourish, even starting this blog to foster and record my creative side.  
  • After my losses I sought massage to help my physically and emotionally process the grief.  I also consulted a hypnotherapist to identify and address any mind/body issues.
Of course with so many things, I don't know what, if anything, was the 'magic bullet'.  There is simply no way to tell.  It might be that after nearly five years of 'trying' it was just my time statistically.

On reflection, making an effort to do something (Anything. Everything!) to increase my odds gave me some sense of control and definitely helped my mental state.  Also taking good care of my body made me feel vital and healthy which also contributed to a better state of mind.

While I (probably like every other not-yet-pregnant woman) would be quite happy to throttle anyone who says 'maybe you should just relax', deep down I believe that, for me, (a bit of a workaholic), there may be an element of truth in it.  Not in taking a brief holiday, or not thinking about how to conceive, or anything cursory, but in consciously taking actions to de-stress my mind and body and prepare myself to be a mother as much as possible.

Ultimately, I believe not working and practicing extreme self-care gave me the opportunity to take a physical break and discover the mental space needed to slow down and allow a baby to come to me.

I am so grateful.
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