How my wife’s deceased mother is helping us conceive a second child

Recently, my wife’s father decided to sell the family home. He has let his daughters know that anything they don’t take home will be pitched, so my wife and her sister have spent some long day’s going through their old family home.

My wife’s mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer just a couple of months before we met (so about 10.5 years ago now), and she battled for 4 years before passing away. She spent most of those 4 years in their home, and had a hospital bed in the family room near the end. She acquired a lot of medical supplies during that time, and a lot of it was shoved in the basement after she passed away. While my wife was sorting the family’s old stuff and looking for sentimental items to save from the dump, she found a box of sterile specimen cups and a box of sterile 10cc syringes.

One needs both of those things to make a baby using at-home artificial-insemination, and both of those things are awkward and slow to collect through pharmacies (you can get one at a time without inviting questions…).

And that is how my wife’s mother is helping us in our journey to conceive her second grandchild, even after she’s gone. I think she’d giggle about it if she knew. ❤️

Our no-more-naps update

Even though Avery’s only 27 months old, we dropped her last remaining nap of the day about a month ago. She had been fighting naps and bedtimes like a kid who legitimately wasn’t tired. When we dropped the nap she coped well, staying alert and relatively happy until 7pm, and then would fall asleep happily at bedtime in 15 minutes. It was a really good solution.

But then she got sick. She has been sick with one bug or another for at least 2 weeks now, and she has been NEEDING that extra sleep. The problem is, [after we weaned from breastfeeding to sleep] it took nap training with lots of tears to get her to accept that naps happened in her bed at a certain time. I knew when we dropped the nap that we wouldn’t be able to easily go back to the way it was… So instead of a scheduled nap when she got home from daycare, she has been crashing while doing whatever we’re doing (watching a movie during quiet time, going on a stroller walk, or even colouring on the floor). Sometimes she crashes at 2pm, sometimes at 4pm. Interestingly, even an hour long nap at 4pm hasn’t been messing up bedtime – she has been begging to go to bed at 7pm. It’s clearly because of being sick. I wish I could get her to sleep earlier in the day (and in her bed), but we’re just rolling with it right now. I assume that after the holidays when our days are back to normal and she’s no longer sick, she’ll stop crashing in the late afternoon and be fine without naps again.

An anniversary love confession

For our 10 year anniversary my wife gave me a book of poetry that I had been eyeing up at Chapters. She circled a couple of the poems that helped her express her love. I was finally getting around to reading the rest of the book, and I found this poem that perfectly says how I feel about my wife.

Sometimes when I’m coming home, she’ll wait by the door and kiss me under the fading light of the day. She’ll say it’s because she forgot to leave the key out, but when she looks at me, I know it is because I am loved. There was a time before we had met and all my stars had burned out, until one day she found me and suddenly there was no longer any doubt. There she was with a smile in the early morning and I was in love again. I dream with her about the house we will have and all our days growing old. Someday when our skin is worn and our hair is gray, I will still look at her like she is the sun on a rainy day. I will never say I’m sorry for the way I feel about her, because she is all I need. And every single time I look at her, I know we’ll make it anywhere. She is honest and true and fair and my heart belongs to her with every memory we share. Even if she never understands why she means so much, I will spend all my days falling more in love with her.

We’ve been together for 10 years, and we’ve been parenting together for over 2. That shit can be hard on a marriage. And when I read love confessions of those much younger and greener than I, I start to feel worried about our relationship. The passion isn’t always there anymore, like it used to be, but then I’m reminded that the love is stronger than ever.

-excerpt from Pillow Thoughts, by Courtney Peppernell

The most thoughtful gift

My wife used to work in the automotive industry. She worked with a bunch of old-school Italian guys, and she often felt she couldn’t be her authentic self. But there were a few guys in her plant who were totally supportive of us, and even years after she stopped working there, they visit us and send Avery gifts.

A package arrived in the mail yesterday, addressed to Avery. Inside were three little stuffed bears, and this book. I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of this book, gifted to Avery by a old Italian guy. The world’s not all bad!

“I have two moms!”

For the last few months Avery has been sounding pretty proud of the fact that she has two moms. She shouts it out when we read books with a dad in them, or when we’re talking about her cousins and their parents, or randomly from the back of the car or while falling asleep at night: “Avery has two moms!”

She also talks about how her family looks different from others. She’ll say, “mommy has one mom.” And “Mo has one dad.” And her train of thought always concludes with another very proud sounding proclamation that she has two moms.

I love it.

“mommy’s my favourite” and anyone else is chopped liver

Sometimes I wish I could be straight JUST because it would be easy to fall back on gender roles to explain away inequities in my relationship. The big issue right now is my wife being second favourite to our daughter. Actually, third favourite – she says “mommy’s my favourite, Albus [the cat] is my favourite buddy.” My wife has been met with avoidant behaviour from our daughter the last month or so. She gets home from work and Avery cringes and hits her if she goes in for a hug, and becomes INSANELY clingy to me. It’s really hard, and really sad. Can’t imagine how hard and sad it is for my wife.

But in hetero relationships, we’ve heard that it’s common for the kids to want nothing to do with the dads for a good long time. It’s easy when it’s a matter of moms versus dads. Women are so often primary caregivers, and men are socialized to not care if their kids go to their mother for every booboo and request. It’s what’s normal.

I think what’s happening with my wife and daughter IS normal, to an extent, but it’s hard to see it that way when our daughter wants one mom so much more than the other mom. We’re both moms – but our roles are as different as any opposite-sex couple out there.

Our daughter’s diblings (donor siblings)

We had our donor’s family over for dinner recently. Their two kids are 8 years and 18 months, and Avery has a budding friendship with both of them; especially the older one, who seriously loves Avery (seriously – she says it all the time, and hugs the daylights out of her, and it’s the sweetest thing ever).

We feel so incredibly lucky to have this positive relationship with our donor and his whole family. Although we’ve decided to have another baby so that Avery will have an actual sibling, it’s feels good to know she has other kids out there her age who she can be connected to in a special way. It’s different from a friendship, and it’s definitely not a sibling relationship. It’s just a unique relationship that not all kids get to experience.

Fertility tracking

I have re-downloaded Fertility Friend, the ovulation charting app that helped us to inseminate efficiently the first time. I tried taking my temperature this morning for fertility tracking, but the battery was dead in my basal thermometer. I’m surprised I even kept it after we made one baby and deciding we were one-and-done. I bought a new battery and plan to start charting temps asap, but it’s very different this time around. In case you haven’t used temperature charting before, the rules are simple but tough to follow: take your temp IMMEDIATELY upon waking, at the same time every day, and put your daily temp on a graph to watch for the rise in temperature associated with ovulating. These days, I sometimes wake up in my bed, sometimes in Avery’s, sometimes at 5am, sometimes at 7am, and I’m up through the night, too. I don’t think I can depend on just temping.

So today I bought the digital ovulation monitor that I used last time for our actual inseminations. It’s a $50 device that comes with 10 ovulation tests, and it’s another $40 to get all the refill test strips I would hopefully need throughout our next round of TTC. It’s expensive, but what I like about it is that it distinguishes between the days leading up to ovulation and the actual day before ovulation (when the lutenizing hormone peaks). It’s really, really handy for the at home inseminating families who don’t have ultrasounds or meds to guide them. When I got the hang it of it last time, I was able to give our donor several days notice for the upcoming ovulation/insemination. And it’s better than temping for me these days, with the #momlife that I wasn’t living last time we conceived.

So that’s where we are with TTC right now. We’re tracking my cycles, and planning a get-together with our donor and his wife for early in the new year to talk about it. We hang out with them a lot, but always with kids in tow, which doesn’t give us the space to talk about making babies… This time we’re coordinating a childless double date, and I’m excited for multiple reasons!

Working backwards from baby

My wife and I have been waffling on when to have baby #2 (and some days we even go back and forth on whether or not to have another child at all). But it seems that we really thought about timelines for the first time last night – when do we want to HAVE baby #2? When’s the best time to disrupt the flow of our lives so that it will cause the least waves?

Originally I had thought that I’d love to be done school and have a job first, so I could get a paid maternity leave. But the issue of disrupting my professional trajectory is a very real one – when I had Avery I completely lost my passion and drive for my PhD and my CV has become outdated and unattractive to potential employers. If that happens again, I will not want to be newly employed by a company I hope to stay at long term when I go through my “mothering-is-everything” phase. So we have decided (and I say that word without strong conviction) to aim to have a baby shortly after I’ve defended my dissertation. Since I aim to defend in early summer 2019, and we don’t want any more birthdays in July and August (there are 7 immediate family birthdays in these two months already), we’re looking at trying in January. BUT I highly doubt that will happen because I haven’t been tracking my cycle and we haven’t even talked to our donor about it, let alone get our donor contract renewed.

Suddenly it feels like 9 months is a long time, when I don’t want to be sitting around between PhD and career for longer than I need to.