Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The elusive second baby

I gave birth to my first child, a lovely girl, in December of 2010.  She was born healthy though afterwards I suffered some minor complications following the birth.  Add her being a terrible sleeper into the mix and I didn't even entertain the idea of having a second until she was two years old.

I always envisioned having two children.  It was how I, the majority of my friends, and husband grew up.  I became pregnant with my daughter easily, almost too easily.  We weren't trying, got lazy one weekend and there she was.  Since her conception was such a breeze I arrogantly assumed that conceiving a second would be just as simple.

I was wrong.

We have been trying since around November of 2012.  Which will put it at almost two years.  In that time I've gone through two miscarriages - spaced a year apart - and a chemical pregnancy.  The last miscarriage was just over a month ago and I decided I needed a break.  My body has been through enough and I needed emotional distance from it all.  The monthly wave of hope and disappointment isn't something I'm ready for nor am I ready to handle yet another pregnancy that might not end well.

There is a name for the condition that I have, secondary infertility.  Moreover I have three friends who are in the same boat as myself.  Some who have also suffered miscarriages and some who haven't been able to conceive at all.  The group of us are watching our one child grow older and the age gap get wider as time passes and the second baby remains a dream.  It hurts.  I'd always imagined my daughter growing up with a sibling and now I'm beginning to wonder if that will ever happen.  I want to add here that I am grateful to have my daughter.  I know I'm not in the same position as those with primary infertility whose predicament I can't begin to imagine.  This post is about my situation and not meant to make others feel badly.

The lack of a second child makes me feel incomplete and I worry that my daughter will be lonely.  Who else understands your parents like a sibling?   Who is she going to complain to about how unfair and horrible we are?  Then there's me.  I want to experience again pregnancy, birth (only because I have to!) and those first crazy months of sleeplessness.  I want to be able to feed another baby and watch him/her grow.  I want to see the first smile, hear the first laugh, catch the first steps. 

I'm sure relatives and Facebook friends are wondering where the second child is.  (I specify Facebook friends as those close to me know exactly what is going on)  Being told not to "wait much longer" for the second baby is frustrating.  If it were as easy as wanting it to happen I would've had one long ago.  My father who had been one of the louder voices insisting my daughter needed a brother or sister has, mercifully, fallen silent as news of each failed pregnancy came his way. 

Medically it seems I need to have three miscarriages in a row before any testing for problems will be done.  The chemical pregnancy does not count as a miscarriage since it was really only my period being three days late.  I wouldn't have even known if I hadn't tested so early.  My age doesn't make things any easier.  At 36 I know my prime reproductive years are behind me.  I've done my homework so I know the risks of problems only get higher the older I get.  It could very well be that being that much older then when I conceived my daughter is causing abnormalities when I do manage to become pregnant. 

My doctor is optimistic I will go on to have a successful pregnancy, having been through something similar with his wife.  I don't know what will happen but for now I'm putting it to the side and working on enjoying my life and loving the child I have.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Good God.  I forgot I had a blog.  Are people still blogging out there?

Why have I not blogged for such a long time?  Well, I got a full time teaching job and lost my mind.  Then I had a baby and what was left of said mind after teaching was effectively shredded.  I want to make it clear I love my baby.  Except she isn't a baby any longer.  She's three.  She's energetic.  She has tantrums.  She can be incredibly amazing and incredibly horrid all in the space of ten minutes.  I'm led to believe this is normal.

Now that I no longer need to get half-undressed to feed my daughter nor change her diapers I'm finding I have time to think again.  Thinking is good - except that I tend to take it to extremes and enter the deep realm of anxiety instead of staying in the shallow end.  Thinking also makes me remember I actually had creative outlets.  I by no means consider myself a Martha Stewart but I like tinkering on a piano (play only - no idea how to compose) and writing.  Since I have no piano here it falls to writing.  Which I'm trying to get back into.  Awkwardly.

I haven't edited this post so forgive any mistakes that are present.  It's getting late and it's been a long day of being stuck indoors due to rain.  Three year olds aren't meant to stay indoors all day.  They're supposed to be taken for walks.  Much like dogs.  

Will update within a week.  Famous last words.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sticker Shock - Again

I thought that I'd gotten used to most of the prices in Australia but I hadn't accounted for automotives. My husband has become numb to it, already having ranted and raved about Canadian prices vs. American. Being Canadian myself I shrugged off his outrage but now have the dubious pleasure of experiencing exactly the same thing in Oz.

Our car was due for an oil change and so we went off looking to get that done. In the States oil changes can go as low as $14 and in Canada you're usually looking at about $30. I knew Australian prices were generally higher so I was prepared to pay about $50-60 dollars for the same service. Instead of it being double the Canadian price, it was quadruple.

After some poking around we found that the average oil change cost about $120. As said before my husband was already immune by now to sticker shock but I stood dumbfounded thinking we couldn't possibly have been quoted the correct fee. Why is it so much more here? Is oil imported via air freight? Are there only a handful of mechanics working in the country? I don't have an answer for this. Not to mention the shock still hasn't worn off, hence I'm writing about it now.

What we've taken away from this experience is that, next time, we'll do our own oil change.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Vegemite - Australia's KD

Food vices exist everywhere. In Canada we apparently have great fondness for Kraft Dinner. Policemen have donuts. Koreans have to have kimchi. San Francisco has Rice-a-Roni, you get the picture. As it's contribution to the food vice community, Australia presents Vegemite.

On one of my first trips into the supermarket in Australia I was bewildered by certain yellow-labeled jars and tubes prominently featured in the condiments aisle. The label read "Vegemite" and was made by Kraft Foods. What was this Vegemite? A salad dressing? Jam? Strangely condensed vegetables? An edible topical ointment? I know the suspense is killing you so read on.

Vegemite is an Australian staple. The label declares that it's: "Proudly made in Australia since 1923". The thick, dark brown paste is a by-product of beer brewing. Leftover yeast is mixed with some vegetable and spice additives to create Vegemite! Sound distasteful to you? The majority of North Americans would agree as it never caught on there even though it's owned by Kraft. Vegemite is derived from the British Marmite which is even thicker and saltier than its cousin (ugh). It can be purchased in jars of varying sizes or toothpaste-like tubes. I'm just wondering what brewery-working bloke looked at leftover yeast and thought: "Eureka! This would be perfect on bread!" Seriously, it's the not the first thing that would come to mind as a tasty snack.

A good many Australians swear by it. I've seen it scraped onto bread at many a recess and lunch and many bakeries sell "Cheesymite" rolls. My brother had his first taste of it while on an extended overseas trip and it's safe to say that Vegemite will never grace his tongue again.

I had my first taste of Vegemite in a friend's house after they'd learned I'd never tried it. A jar was promptly whisked out and I was given a knife and piece of bread. "Don't put too much on!" I was warned and with good foresight. I tentatively placed a light covering of Vegemite onto the bread and even more gingerly took a bite. What was it like? Honestly, it tasted...brown (I'm serious if brown had a flavour this would be it!) and salty, really salty. Did I like it? No, but I didn't hate it either. I also haven't had any since that initial sampling, despite being given a jar at Christmas. I'll leave it that we're strangers who met once at a party and never spoke again, much to Vegemite's dismay. I'm sure it would've loved to make another conquest.

I'll end my Vegemite-themed post there. If any of my friends out there wants to try it, let me know and I'll mail you a tube! Mmmm.

Things I miss about Canada

I've been in Australia now for about 5 months. In that time I've managed to get work and make some friends. I've also had time to really miss things about my home country. In no particular order I present them now:

1. Snow and cold - Yes this sounds strange for those of you suffering from too much of it but Christmas in blazing sun and heat just isn't the same for a gal who grew up in the Great White North. Christmas Day is for sitting in your warm jammies, sipping hot chocolate and eating lots of fatty foods (turkey, stuffing, potatoes etc.). NOT for sitting in shorts, perspiring and wondering when the hell it's going to cool down again. They don't really play carols here either, which is simply a travesty.

2. Clothing Stores - No, Aussies don't all walk around naked for a lack of stores but they're just not what I'm used to. The styles are slightly different (though nowhere near the trauma of Japanese styles) and prices...well I've discussed that before. I was somewhat surprised that bigger name stores like Gap, or H&M hadn't made it here. I suppose I should just stop bitching and find some places I'll like.

3. Canadian Book Prices - Although I complained about paying more than Americans did for books it's nowhere near the exorbitant prices Aussies pay. Your average paperback in Canada is, let's say about $10. Here you're looking at something like $27 for exactly the same book. Don't even get me started about hardcover. For one, it's basically a bigger, thicker paperback (not a real hardcover) and two, the cost is astronomical. Basically if you want to be a reader here you either need to go bankrupt or have a library membership.

4. Hashbrowns - They have the McDonald's type hashbrowns here but I'm talking about the diced/shredded versions that you could easily pick up in any supermarket in North America. I loved eating these for a snack or lunch/breakfast. Actually I probably would've eaten them at every bloody meal if I could've convinced my husband he liked them too. Why why why don't they have them here?? I was heartbroken when I went on a supermarket hunt to no avail. *sob*

5. Right side Driving - We bought a car here in September and I'm pretty used to driving on the opposite side but 29 years of right-side driving doesn't go away overnight. I'll still find myself hopping into the car and then realizing there's no steering wheel in front of me. Or I'll nearly crash because I'm exiting on the wrong side of a driveway. And roundabouts, whew I finally got the hang of them but they were my mortal enemy for a good month. On a related note, I also miss being able to turn right/left on a red light. They don't do that here.

6. My family and friends - I said it was in no particular order. In past posts I've gone on and on about it being more difficult to make new friends when you're older. I stand by it! I want my social network from home to be transplanted here then I'd be supremely happy (except for the hashbrowns).

7. Ice Cream Sandwiches - What gives? Aren't these a staple during the summer? Ice cream on a stick and Eskimo Pies just don't cut it. I've only managed to find one brand that makes them and one supermarket that stocks it.

8. 8.5" x 11" Paper - Apparently the rest of the world uses A4. It's not really a big deal but I can't use clipboards and binders that I've brought from home. Why can't everyone use the same thing, be it letter or A4?

9. Frivolous Magazines - Such as People, Entertainment Weekly and Us. I like to read crap, so sue me. Actually it's more of Entertainment Weekly I miss. Oz has it's own equivalents of People and Us. Strange since I never paid it much attention when I was home.

10. Produce in a supermarket - I'm not saying there isn't good produce here, it just isn't found in a supermarket. After a few months of being dissatisfied, I discovered that most people seem to buy their greens separately at produce-only stores. I'm used to produce-only stores being of the organic variety at home but here they're the norm (and not necessarily organic). Usually a produce store is found very close to a supermarket.

11. Unlimited Internet - I've never had the problem of having the amount of internet I use be capped. In Korea you get crazy speeds and no one seems to care how much you use. In Australia, this is not the case. Internet prices are inflated and you're closely monitored with how much bandwidth you take. When we hit our limit our speed is severely downgraded until the next billing period starts. I've heard it's owing to the distance and the difficulty of wiring across the ocean or bla bla bla. In Canada, I paid less than half the montly price I do now and there was no cap. Quite frankly it sucks and to me it's archaic.

I originally had the list at 10 but remembered my beef with internet, thus it's now 11! (Wow, that was an exciting aside Yuri!) I could go on but I won't as I'm realizing this sounds more like a bitch-fest than I intended it to. Oh well! Cheers everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Socializing as an adult

I'm going on the 3rd month now away from home and hitting that usual bump that I encounter when I'm not in North America. I find this happens in 3 month increments. I'll be doing fine and then suddenly I'm hit with an overwhelming wave of homesickness. This happened in Korea, and Japan so it's no surprise it's happening here too. I thought it might've been muted a bit since I can at least communicate with people but there's a difference from being foreign in an English speaking country as opposed to a non-English speaking one.

When you're in a non-English speaking country you automatically latch on to any English speaker you come across, whether your personalities match or not. Sometimes all you have in common is the fact that you're both foreign. It doesn't matter, in a sea of aliens it's enough of a base to start a friendship. Usually you hang out with your English-teaching coworkers. Social groups spring up surprisingly fast and become strong in an indecently short amount of time. At least this was how it was for me and a good many of the foreigners I knew overseas. You became instant best friends with people you'd known a week, did everything and went everywhere together. Of course groups also fall apart quickly as when you return to your own country you realize you actually have nothing to say to each other. Generally, as far as socializing goes being in a non-English speaking country is a blast.

Australia is different for two reasons. One: I'm not here for only a year and Two: I speak the same language that everyone else here does. This time I'm not an anomaly, like in Korea or Japan. My coworkers are all natives to Australia so there isn't anyone to latch onto (you can't latch to natives, it doesn't work that way it would just seem creepy). Instantaneous friends don't exist in this situation, you have to actually work at it like you would in your home country. Anyone knows that making friends as an adult is usually a lot harder than when you're younger and in school. You need to socialize through work functions first and then later you can maybe go for coffee. In a way it's a lot like dating, you're courting potential friends and it's uphill work! It's harder when the people you meet already have established groups and their own lives to live.

The main purpose of this post was to say that I miss my friends and family back home. The friendships I had there spanned years and those people knew me inside out. Pretty much to the point they could predict what I would do in a given situation. I miss getting together with friends where as soon as I see them I can immediately bitch about a bad day and they'll know exactly what to say to make me feel better.

Anway, I hope all of you back home are doing well. I'll keep you updated on my social attempts! Cheers.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Not Australia Related

Hello out there. I can't believe I haven't updated in so long! First I was plain lazy and then I managed to land a temporary job as a science teacher and have been going non stop since. I was sick the past few days and now have some energy to blog. Excellent.

My post for today pertains to something I stumbled across in my many hours of perusing the internet. I can't remember what led to it but I found an article discussing "SED" or Selective Eating Disorder. I read some of it and I have to say, I just can't agree that this is a legitimate disorder in the way bulimia or anorexia are. To me, it's a product of the over-indulgent, overly-analytical society we live in today.

Apparently, if you suffer from SED you are anxious about new foods. I guess you just can't bring yourself to eat things of a certain texture or taste. It can range from a few foods to omitting entire food groups. While that last part is bit extreme, it still sounds like a lot of bullsh*t to me. Translated I read: "I am picky and now I can excuse it." How many things can we possibly label? Kids today are already over diagnosed and over medicated in my opinion. Isn't this just making it worse? Soon we're going to have excuses for children/adults who don't like to pick up after themselves. Don't worry, make a mess, it's a disorder! We'll send you to pricey doctors for a ridiculous assessment and then medicate you for it! Do you shop too much and go into debt? We'll write your creditors a doctor's note because it's a disorder, you're not responsible for your actions.

I'm not the best of eaters myself. For some reason, I can't stand raisins. Is it irrational? Yes, those raisins never did anything to me. Quite frankly, I don't like the taste. And doesn't it really come down to that with food? You like it or you don't. Why make being picky into a disorder?

Granted, I don't suffer from SED (I hardly think my one untouchable food counts). I don't understand the all consuming anxiety that seems to engulf true sufferers when they encounter those dreaded foods. But it anxiety or just plain disgust? Are we making this into more than it is?

My main problem with labeling diseases/disorders is that I feel like we limit people to working within them. As a teacher, I have seen many students assessed and then accordingly diagnosed with learning disabilities, cognitive disorders, attention deficit disorder and so on. Now, I'm not saying that they don't have merit, I'm sure a great deal of research has gone into it to make it so. But when the child is aware of their condition they can excuse their behaviour within it. I've heard/seen a great many students shrug and say, "My mom says I can't do work because I have such and such." Is making them aware and labeling the problem helping or hurting? If they didn't have the label would they strive more to overcome it? If we didn't outright say it was a problem, would it cease to be one? It's something I've always wondered. I have a friend who believes that had she been in elementary now she would've been diagnosed with ADD. Fortunately for her she: 1. Went to school before Diagnosing Mania began and 2. Had a supportive family. The way she told it is that her parents cared and supported her in overcoming her issues. Did she actually have ADD? Debatable but if given the label, it would've followed her throughout her school career. What does that do to a child? Or an adult for that matter?

Diagnosing has it's benefits and can be very valid, don't get me wrong, I just think we tend to overdo it. Sometimes, don't we just need to take responsibility for our actions?

Those are my rambling thoughts at this late hour. Hopefully I made some sort of point. I tend to veer off in different directions as I write.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mission: Friends

I don't usually think of myself as a creepy person. That is not until I get to a foreign country. I'm in Melbourne where, aside from Will, I don't know a soul. I don't like not knowing any other souls. My soul likes getting to know other ones. After feeling panicked because I didn't know anyone, a great opportunity presented itself in the form of an after-school meet-and-greet that also included spouses of the students. Excellent.

Once I arrived at the school I was happy to see that a decent number of Will's fellow students were also married. After chatting for a few moments I felt compelled to immediately go on the offensive and get the numbers of these other lonely souls. Now, I don't do this in Calgary where I already have an established group of friends. Back home it takes days and sometimes months of chatting/working together before the number swap will happen. Being practical I didn't have that kind of luxury to waste as I didn't know the next time an opportunity like this would present itself. Feeling somewhat desperate and more than a little creepy I pulled out my ever-present planner and pen to jot down the numbers of girls who I'd known for a total of 15 minutes. Yes, this is what fear of loneliness does to me. This tactic seemed to have worked out successfully as I have a group of girls that I see with some regularity, our two things in common are that we're not from here and our husbands' are in the same program.

Now I've been hired to work at a school for the next term where many other people also work. While this has potential to create more friends, I can't pounce there, I do have my limits for what's socially acceptable. On a side note, I absolutely hate being the new person. Teachers there have formed their friend groups and have worked together for the whole year if not longer. I'm not good at breaking into already established cliques. I feel like I might as well be screaming, "Be friends with me! I'm nice, really I am! And hey, I have a cool accent!" I never worried about it in Calgary where I already had my network and friends from work were a bonus, not a necessity.

However I'm nothing if not determined. I'll make friends at that school or die trying. Actually dying isn't on my list of fun things to do, I'll modify that to I'll make friends at that school or...I won't. Yes, a much stronger statement! But really, I'm so charming how can anyone resist? :P

Footy and what I don't know about it

I've been in Australia for just over a month now, and working for 2 weeks as a CRT. Yesterday afforded me one of my more interesting introduction to the culture here...footy.

The main sport here in the state of Victoria is AFL or the Australian Football League, they follow Australian Rules Football. The way I understand it is that it's a mixture of rugby and football (not soccer). Not knowing the rules to either I won't elaborate on it. From what I can see they play with a modified football in soccer-like clothing. That's about what I can see. Sorry, I'm horribly unathletic. This translates in being a spectator as well.

The AFL consists of 16 teams, of which NINE are situated in Melbourne alone. This makes for a city full of rabid footy fans. Yesterday was "Footy Day" at the school I was subbing at. The entire day was devoted to Footy related activities and a nearly 2 hour assembly that declared itself to be the "Footy Show". Uniforms were cast aside in favour of team colours and students eagerly tried to recruit me to support their teams. This isn't a phenomenon just among children, adults are much more invested in the sport.

Now I'm from Calgary where I support the local NHL team the Calgary Flames. Hockey is Canada's thing, our unofficial national sport. The major difference is that Calgary unites to support it's team since there aren't EIGHT others to fight over. And there is no song that goes with the Flames. Yesterday I endured listening to 16 team songs, at various points student and staff would stand to enthusiastically join in.

Being an outsider and having no cultural sensitivity to Footy, I sat most of the day completely bewildered by the ardent love of the sport (and doubly shocked when the singing started). I wondered if, in a year or so, I would be singing along when I heard MY team song.

For someone who still can't master the rules of American Football it seems doubtful that I'll pick up Aussie Rules. But I can enjoy the spectacle of others who do appreciate the game.