Since toddlers and children are not overly welcome at spa’s and my Princess loves being pampered, I have to say I was at a bit of a loss. How was I to keep both happy? Keep the spa happy by not bringing my precious little girl who loves getting her nails done or get kicked out of said spa for bringing a 3 1/2 year old whose volume control is limited? So I created a win-win situation. Home Spa Day. Armed with nothing more than Johnson & Johnson’s lotion, nail polish, a foot spa and epsom salts, I gave my Princess the Spa Day she was craving.
Since learning that I am infertile, one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with is learning to ‘grin and bear it’. I will admit it is not one of my strongest personality traits as I am one of those people who whatever I am feeling is almost guaranteed to show on my face. If it’s annoyance, anger, disbelief, happiness, or sadness, the expression is there on my face. I don’t like to hide, I don’t like to lie, but at the same time, sometimes the time and place for such conversations are not appropriate. My Princess is almost 4 years old now and many of our friends and family are having children. And with that, the question Hubby and I dread is being asked at every turn.
“So,” they cheerfully ask, poking me in the abdomen. “When is she getting a brother or a sister.”
Cue the awkward smile and shift in my stance. Most of the time they corner Hubby and I alone so we are unable to lean on each other for support or help with the answer. I know they don’t do it out of spite or malice, but I cringe when I am asked it.
“Oh, umm, you know, hmm, when it happens. We’ll see how it goes.” I divert my eyes anywhere but in theirs. I don’t want to have to see their expression when I don’t give them a straight forward answer. How do I say, “Well my prolactin levels are extremely high and have drained my estrogen levels so my body is incapable of maintaining any pregnancy and my ovaries are not releasing any eggs. My body is essentially going into early menopause and I’m only 26. Oh and my ovaries are covered in cysts.” That doesn’t really make for a great conversation. It is one thing for me to be uncomfortable, but I really wouldn’t want to be the cause of someone else’s discomfort. I’ve had strangers on the bus ask me, teachers at my daughter’s daycare, coworkers, friends, family and everyone else in between. I haven’t yet found a suitable answer.
So many people I know are having babies. My sister is pregnant and so is a close family member. My cousin just had a baby and her sister is due any day. My hubby’s brother had a beautiful blue-eyed baby girl 6 months ago and my friend is having a baby as well. I am all very happy for them, I really am. I rub their tummy’s, ask them how they are feeling, celebrate the life the life that is about to be brought into this world. But as I smile there is a dull ache that lies inside. It’s not cramps from bad food or from menstruation or ovulation, it’s a dull ache from a fear that I may never get to feel another kick, hear the whooshing of the ultrasound, crave pickles, have heartburn radiating through my body or be hunched over a toilet praying to the porcelain gods again.
I’ve received so many comments from people who I know mean well, but they come off so inconsiderate and back-handed.
“You just need to go back and enjoy sex again. Then you’ll get pregnant.”
I really wish it were that simple. Out of 28-35 days, depending on your cycle length, you only have about 25 – 30% chance of becoming pregnant. You have to determine when you ovulate, how long your luteal phase is, how soft and where your cervix is. I took Siberian Ginseng, Prenatal Vitamins, Evening Primrose Oil, Dong Quai and Green Tea for their ‘fertility’ aid. I was charting my entire cycle. I charted my basal temperature, my cervical mucus, how tender my breasts were, lower back pain, how heavy my flow, how long it lasted, basically acting as an ovulatory detective searching for clues when my ovaries will release an egg and when to approach Hubby and give a very small timeline to when we have to “enjoy sex”. Nothing says ‘sexy’ like “We have to have sex right now and tomorrow and I have to elevate my hips for 30 minutes.”
“Just chill out, you are way to stressed.”
Unfortunately stress and infertility often go hand in hand. Stress can lead to infertility and infertility only increases stress. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation.
“You should be grateful you have one child. Some people don’t have any.”
I would have to say this is the most inconsiderate and cruel comment I’ve ever received. I am very grateful for my beautiful brown-eyed, blonde curly-haired little Princess. She is my entire world. I look at her and thank every lucky star in the universe for giving her to me. We almost lost her at 3 months, and the cord wrapped around her neck during labour and she was born via c-section. I hug her and kiss her and tell her how much she means to me every single day. Most of my happy moments are the ones where I am with her. But I also dreamt of giving her siblings. A house full of siblings. I always wanted to be a mom to many children. I took care of my sisters and babysat many children. I love kids. Their laughs, smiles, their attitudes, everything about them makes me smile. They are so innocent and happy that it always boggles my brain when people say they annoy them. The old adage “Barefoot and Pregnant” was my mantra growing up and I couldn’t think of a better dream for me. I’m not talking about pulling a Dugger, but I wanted at least 4 kids, if not more. Just a house full of children running around, me ragged and tired, but overjoyed. The doctor says I’ll be lucky if I am able to have one more.
“There’s always adoption and surrogates.”
Generally it’s these people who know nothing about costs and legal matters. These options are not always available to everyone.
I think what hurts the most is that I have to look at my little girl when she asks me where the ‘baby’ went and why she doesn’t have a sister and try to come up with some sort of child-friendly response and then look at my Husband, who wanted a house full of kids and try to articulate ‘I’m sorry’ that I let him down. I am 26, at the supposed height of my fertile years and have to say “I’m infertile”. I never thought that phrase would ever come from me. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed. I have come to know many people who are infertile and are suffering from what I am suffering from. It’s just an overwhelming sadness, guilt and grief that is so very hard to explain, comprehend and come to terms with.
After 2 years of trying to get pregnant, I have found an online community that has truly helped me realize I’m not alone and one blogger in particular, Practical Katie and her post “When One Isn’t Enough” really did help me understand this. And to my readers, your kind words have really helped pick me up when I have been feeling down. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
My Princess has been in daycare since she was 18 months old. I went back to work on weekend and nights when she was about 10 months old but didn’t go back fulltime until she was 16 months. I moved from Ottawa to Toronto when I was 7 months pregnant and decided that when I went back to work, I wasn’t getting a transfer. I knew I needed a job that paid the bills, left a little in the bank and would still cover the cost of daycare. I searched all over Toronto but most were either inflexible hours, too little pay or ridiculously far away from where we lived. So I found a job where I worked nights on the weekend. Despite hating it, it put money in the bank and I didn’t need a sitter. But eventually it just wasn’t enough, I really didn’t want it to be my career, let alone my job. So I started looking again for another job.
Finally I found the job where I work now. I am a food writer for a catering company in Toronto and I’m also the Head Catering Coordinator. The hours are great, so are my coworkers and it is only a 35 – 45 minute commute each way. Not bad for Toronto. I began my search for childcare. We found one woman who ran her own daycare out of her home who lived near us. She was relatively priced, had children of her own, so it seemed like a great fit. We went away the weekend before I was supposed to start and when we came home that Sunday I had a message on my machine.
“I’m really sorry to do this to you so last-minute, but I’ve changed my mind. I’m closing down my home daycare.”
Are you serious?! Thank goodness for my in-laws who helped us out extraordinarily with our search for childcare. They watched her until we found someone else. While I was searching for the first place, I had come across a Nanny (or so she called herself) that was fresh out of college. She was currently working at a daycare, but wished to go into business herself. She was willing to come to our home and watch her. She was all up to date with her CPR and First Aid. She graduated from the Early Childhood Education program at a Toronto College. She had references from daycare, families and other related jobs and all the references came back stellar. I even had a police background check done and it was clean. I did my research and was thorough, she was the person. It wasn’t long until we learned our lesson.
It started off fairly early that she was not showing up to work, or calling in sick. Once she told me she couldn’t work on Monday because she “thought” her cousin was getting married. Then we started to hear from our neighbours that there were people waiting outside for her throughout the day. We had a discussion with her and told her that under NO circumstances was she to have anyone in our home. She said she understood. Next thing we noticed, food from our fridge was missing. Not a little bit at a time, like cans of soup, tube of cookie dough, you name it, it started to go missing. We started looking for daycare, because it was getting to be too much. Then this (insert expletive) did something so atrocious that she will rot in a special place for what she did. Hubby and I keep all our twoonies to put in the Princess’ piggy bank. It goes towards her college fund and the Wednesday prior to this day, we had counted it and there was $100 in it. Hubby suggested that we roll it and put it in the bank. The next Monday, I came home from work and found numerous Tim Horton cups in our trash. I remember she brought one when she arrived that morning, but there were three in the garbage and Hubby said he didn’t have any. Then I went to the sink and found three bowls of Alphaghetti in there. And none were of my daughter’s special children’s bowls. Hubby said when he got home, there was someone waiting outside. Hmm. My spider senses were beginning to tingle. I was going to call her that night to ask if she had anyone over. But first, I had twoonies in my purse that I was going to put in her piggy bank. Now I kept our laundry money, spare change jar and the Princess’ piggy bank in our bedroom with the door closed. She was aware that our bedroom was off-limits and she was never to go in there. So that night, when I went to put the change in the piggy bank, I lifted it up and much to my surprise, it was EMPTY!!!! Oh I have never been so angry in my life! I began frantically searching around my home for 50 twoonies. Asked Hubby if he had taken them to the bank and he said ‘no’. So I called her. And this is how the conversation went.
“Hi (insert name). Did you have someone over today?” I asked calmly.
“Well Hubby said he saw your friend outside.”
“Yeah, they were waiting for me.”
“Well I found coffee cups in the garbage.”
“Oh, well they came up to use the bathroom.”
“Did they eat my food too? I found bowls in the sink.” Rule number one for criminals, get rid of the evidence.
“Listen, the Princess’ piggy bank is empty.”
“I never went into your bedroom.” Caught you!
“That’s funny, because I never told you that’s where the money was.”
“Listen, you are fired and I’m calling the cops. You stole money from a baby! You are low.”
I called the cops and they came and took our statement. I was assigned a detective and they tried numerous times to call her and go to her place of residence, however, because she lived in an apartment building, and she didn’t answer the buzzer, they couldn’t go in the building. Robbed a baby and got away with it. But I was offered this little tidbit of information. Apparently, in Canada, if you have been arrested but never charged formally, these offenses never show up on your record and our dear sweet thief had been arrested TWICE for shoplifting and theft and ONCE for domestic abuse, but all charges were dropped. So my background check did absolutely nothing to protect my child. I did however, call her references and informed them of what she did and they were absolutely wrong to give such stellar ones when she was nothing but a thief. I felt so guilty after that. I left my child in the care of someone who robbed her. Stole money that was to be for her education. I felt like I made the worst decision of my life.
Soon after that, we found the daycare where we are at now. It was close to home, reasonably priced and was professionally run. That is not to say we were not without bumps in the road. Three days after going into daycare, our Princess contracted Norwalk Virus, and had vicious diarrhea for 3 weeks. She lost so much weight and her poor bum was so blistered that we had to put a steroid cream just to keep them from bleeding. She was so miserable it was devastating. The daycare fortunately refunded us 2 weeks of the cost, however, Hubby and I had to alternatively take days off work just to care for her. I had literally just started a new job and was missing days out of the week. I thought for sure I was going to be fired. But I had no one else. The daycare wouldn’t take her. After she finally got over that, it was maybe a week before she got an ear infection that spread to her eyes, throat, sinus and lymph nodes and sent her into a fever that was so high I had to put her in bath of cold water. She screamed bloody murder. I put her on the couch naked to try to cool her down when she started to have a seizure. Her eyes rolled back in her head, she started to shake uncontrollably and was gasping for breath. I was frantic. I have epilepsy, but to see it happening to your child is frightening. She had 12 seizures that day. She was rushed to the local Children’s Hospital where she spent days in and out of it for close to six months. Any virus or germ or bacteria that was going around her daycare, she got it. I never believed it when people told me that once you put them in daycare they get sick all the time, but they were right. Her drastic change in health put a lot of strain on us emotionally, physically and financially. I was starting to wonder if going back to work was the right thing to do.
She had lost so much weight and became so weak that she had troubling walking. She would collapse for no reason, continued to have seizures any time she had a fever and we went for countless tests. Seeing her hooked up to an EEG machine, with wires running off of her head was so heart breaking. She went to visit a pediatric neurologist who gave us good news. She wasn’t epileptic, although her chances of developing it later in life are increased. He gave us pills that were to crush in her cheek if she had another one and to monitor all her fever’s closely. Thank GOD she hasn’t had another one after that. It took about a year in daycare before she was able to ward off any viruses. But despite her not getting them, she brought them home to us. Hubby never got tonsilitis until we put her in daycare. But as soon as she went in, he was getting it every 2 months. He could even tell before it hit that he was getting it. Finally in January, after going to the doctors, he had his tonsils removed because the doctor said that his tonsils were basically working against him. The surgeon said they were the size of meatballs they were so infected.
Now despite a tumultuous year and a half, there were great things about the daycare. My Princess is a social butterfly and has so many friends. We would have parents come up to us and say how much their children talk about her. Kids would fight just to sit next to her. Her daycare also had fashion shows, plays, puppet shows and field trips that has greatly enriched her life. Just this week she was able to go to the African Lion Safari which is where you drive through a park of African animals and get to see them close up. She got to see monkey’s and lions and loved how the monkey’s climbed on the car. They provided her with life experiences and friends that she may not have gotten if I had stayed home. I am not worried about her going to Kindergarten now because of how well she flourished in daycare. I also know now that her immune system is stronger, she won’t be missing that much time at school. I would recommend our daycare to anyone and if we have another child and I go back to work, we will definitely be using that one again.
Last year we were becoming worried about the Princess’ speech development. We could understand her but many people outside of family and friends would looks to us to translate toddler. My in-laws said they thought her speech was fine but there was this nagging feeling inside me that she wasn’t where she should be. I asked her daycare teachers and again they said she was fine but if I was concerned, maybe I should invest in some learning tools. There is a Chapter’s on the concourse level in the building where I work and on my lunch I went to look for speech developing books. I found Brain Quest cards children aged 3 & 4. They come in a box, with 2 decks and questions on both sides of each card.
The questions range from differentiating sizes and shapes, finding similarities and differences, letters, numbers, objects, mazes and much more. They have the questions printed on the card, but parents are encouraged to make up their own as well. If they ask for example “Which baby is sleeping?” after the Princess answers, I ask her to count how many babies are in the picture. The cards allow the children to pick their own pace, develop language skills and have fun at the same time. The creators also provide helpful suggestions on how to get the most out of these cards.
- Introduce Molly the Mouse. She is the main character of the cards and appears in many of the questions.
- Help your child enjoy the Game. Feel free to reword the questions or make up your own. Help by giving clues and constant praise.
- Let your child’s responses guide the game. If for example your child chooses the ‘bird’ as the answer, when it’s really ‘stork’ then allow that to be the answer.
- Relate the game to your child’s everyday life. Pretty self-explanatory.
- Broaden your child’s interests. If there is something in the cards your child isn’t familiar with, introduce it to their life such as a story, tale or nursery rhyme.
These cards we very inexpensive and do not require any batteries, special attachments or game pieces. They aren’t a choking hazard and they are small enough that they can be carried in your purse on long trips or to dinners when you need them to be quiet. The Princess’ speech has improved greatly and we are no longer concerned. She loves these cards and asks us to play each night. We only some a night so she doesn’t get bored of them too quickly. She likes them and so do we. Only downside is that with frequent use, the cardboard covers begins to wear where it is fastened to the rest of the deck. 4 out of 5 stars!
My Princess has officially hit the “Why” stage. Every question is followed by yet another ‘why’ question until you are left answerless. This was today’s ‘why’ series;
“Mommy, do you have a grandma and grandpa?”
“Yes but they are in heaven now.”
“Because they were old and sick and it was their time to go.”
“Because that’s what happens when you are old. You get called up to heaven.”
“Because when it’s your time, it’s your time.”
“Because there is a greater place for us when we are done on Earth.”
“Because Earth is a place for living people, heaven is for people who have passed on and they live another life there.”
“Because you can’t live on Earth forever.”
At this I have given up. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I don’t think her 3 year old brain can handle an in depth existential conversation about the hereafter. One of my favourite comedian’s does a great bit on the ‘why’ questions of children. It’s full of swear words but I think it really drives the point home.
We have been experiencing a heat wave in Toronto this summer and my Princess has been crazy being cooped up inside during the hottest parts of the day. Since we live in an apartment building that doesn’t have a pool, I have had to come up with some ways to keep the Princess cool when we do go outside;
- Splash Pads. One thing I am very fortunate for in Toronto is the long list of splash pads. These playgrounds are great when its hot and you don’t have a pool of your own. A little note though, these are not supervised and it is up to the parents or guardians to watch over their children.
- Water Balloons. For a few dollars, you can get a huge container of balloons and it supplies kids with hours of fun.
- Local pools. Alderwood Pool is my favourite and they have drop in programs for families where for $3.50, you can go swim for an hour. There are also free pools all over Toronto.
- Sprinklers, water guns and slip & slides. Available from almost every box store, all these items require is a water source and children, the rest is all in the imagination of the user.
Be sure in the extreme heat to stay hydrated and if it is really hot, be sure to stay inside or visit a local mall or indoor building where it is air-conditioned.
I was on Yahoo today and saw an article about a 13-year-old girl who lured a 3-year-old at a McDonald’s in Utah and cut her hair. Now the Judge in the case gave her 30 days in a detention centre and 276 hours of community service. However, the Judge told the mother that if she cut her daughter’s hair in the courtroom, he would shave off 150 hours. The mother did it and has now filed a complaint because she felt “intimidated” by him. She’s also stating that her daughter was strip searched at the detention centre and now cannot sleep by herself and cries often. The girl’s 11-year-old accomplice also had to have her hair cut, but she was allowed to go to the salon. The 13-year-old, Kaytlen Lopan, claims that it was the accomplice, not her that cut the hair. However, Miss Lopan is also in trouble due to some prank related grievances against another girl.
Now when I saw this article a few things came to mind. Firstly, at 13, I would never have pulled a stunt like this. Not only is it wrong to wrong a child, but the sheer fear of my parents was enough to keep my on the straight and narrow. As my parents would so graciously say, “my butt would never see the light of day again.” By the sounds of this case, this mother has very little control over her daughter’s behaviour as this is the SECOND time she’s been in trouble with the law, but the nerve of Miss Lopan. Why would you cut a little girls’ hair? What purpose would that serve? I highly doubt the 3-year-old attacked and triggered the attack.
Secondly, as a mother, if my Princess ever, ever, everrr, lured a little girl away from her parents and cut her hair, not only would she be grounded until she died, she would have to apologize to this little girl and her parents, I would make her volunteer at a hair salon sweeping her hair, and finally I would shave her head. Drastic, I know. But so is cutting a little girl’s hair maliciously.
I have a few choice words for this mother. I think by her filing this complaint against the judge sets a poor example for her daughter. The mother agreed to cutting the hair. Now, if you genuinely thought your daughter was innocent, would you really cut her hair? People have choices. She could have said no and made her daughter work the full amount of hours. But she CHOSE to cut it to get her daughter to work less and now she’s complaining. And as for the girl saying she was scared, I hope she was scared. Those detention centres are not meant to be five-star hotels. They are meant to teach lessons. Lessons like cutting a little girls hair is not OK. I think by the mother letting her go lightly is only teaching her daughter that it is ok to do this stuff, because in the end, her mom will try to get her off. If it were my daughter, her hair would be cut and she would work and serve every minute she was sentenced to. People make choices. But there are consequences to those choices. It’s a life lesson.