Hello Pumpkin

Kingston Grey Carson McLeod was born the evening of October 27th at the wee size of 10lbs 3oz. Both mommies are doing great and like most new parents deprived of sleep, we are deliriously in love.

❤️❤️❤️

Birth Story

This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And Allia and I got through it together – with amazing coaching from Laura, our doula, and Mariah the midwife, plus Kathleen who arrives for the pushing.

No epidural available until hour 13, after three days of pre-labour; laboured from 6 am-noon at home with Laura joining us at 9 am. We went to the hospital at 12:15 and was already 7 cm. Surprising, given how chill I was about the contractions. Things progressed and I was handling it like a champ until right before 10 cm. The pain and nervousness, plus exhaustion started to ge to me, but we took it as part of our journey and tried to approach it from a ‘if this is how it has to go, alright’ mindset. However, I stayed at 9 cm for hours and he was stuck. Finally one of the anesthesiologists was available. Got the epidural at about 7 pm, which worked on half my body only… then pushed out this ten pounder in an hour. Allia was so amazing and I still can’t believe it happened. He is two days old, not even, and I can’t believe he came out of my body – except for how sore I feel.

He did skin to skin right away. We sang three little birds to him. I saw him coming in the mirror. It was insane and scary and vital. He went straight for the latch. We stayed skin to skin for an hour and they brought in a specialist to stitch me up. Three second degree tears. And the stay was also because of my hemorrhage post-partum and his size, to watch his glucose, etc.

He is so chill and very snuggly. He is already out of newborn sized clothes.

Last night was so rough – the cluster feeding, engorgement and super stressed nipples. Plus a diapered lady-region that feels like an instalment of Star Wars was filmed down there – replete with battles and light sabres tearing through the galaxy.

For delivery room and power doula, midwife and spouse team highlights… more later.

Here we go again

This morning at 6 something a.m., my brother’s wife had a little girl. I felt purely happy for them. Not sad in the way I thought I would, having expected our own little one just weeks from this time. It seems like so long ago that we had a miscarriage.

Since then we have kept trying. And trying. And trying to stay positive.

So many needles and bruises. Really though. This time the bruises were intense. TTC, yet again. This time with a medically enhanced set of hormones, just to help things along. Tomorrow I will do a Frozen Embryo Transfer with assisted hatching. It will be our last try.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Be grateful, I tell myself

And then I list the things to be grateful for.

So that I don’t sink into the feeling I’m actually feeling. Which is sad.

I am not pregnant. Again.

I can’t even remember how long it’s been since I wrote here. Was the last time when I was still pregnant? With the baby that stopped being a baby at 12 weeks, no heartbeat, then a bloodbath. A literal bloodbath. That was months ago. And we got through it.

I looked at our son. His goofy grin; his delicious skin; his wild, wild hair. How can I not be happy, when this is my gift?

But I am sad for the plans we made for another life – a sibling for him. So much of it was for him. And it’s hard, that my due date was just weeks away from my sister-in-law’s. She is still pregnant. I am not. I am not.

I thought it was meant to be… that I got pregnant on the same day, two years after our son was conceived.

Perhaps he wanted his own day.

Not meant to be.

Then there were three. Three embryos left. And three of us left. No fourth little person to join us.

And I kept thinking,… is it good that 2 of 5 embryos implanted ?… I almost think, ‘on the first try.’ But… there is no second try. It’s try and succeed.

Or fail.

And is it pushing the odds, hoping too much, to expect a miracle on top of a miracle? But we do. We take the estrogen, the progesterone, blood test after blood test, more holes in my arms and tiny perforations in the hope I’ve been holding so tight.

Stretched like a second skin. The air is leaking out, but I keep breathing life into it.

Does two out of 4 mean my odds are used up? What do I have left to hope for? Am I pushing my luck? Greedy?

Embyro one, gave us a son. Embryo two, no baby for you.

Embryo three. Not for me.

It feels like a mean children’s song, sung on a playground – but I find myself thinking of these numbers constantly, though not the rhymes. Those are just coming to me now, as I squelch through the ickiness of this moment, flinging mud at myself. At my stupid hopeful face. Who opens a computer screen these days for good news?

Embryo four. Shuts the door. That was today. And I was so silly, walking in with my laptop, checking my results online instead of waiting for the call. I almost (almost) feel like my impatience is being punished. Every time I’m tempted to expect a positive result…

I thought maybe today, knowing that my dearest friend and I had procedures on the same day; blood tests the same day; that it was meant to be. Maybe.

She is pregnant. I am thrilled.

I opened my results. Read it over several times. Eager.

For bad news. Nothing in my blood to suggest that this meant to be was meant.

To be.

Maybe she needed her own day, too.

In the middle of a pandemic, racial, economic, viral, ecological. Back to work – with children, in chaos, in a mask. Raising a child. Living with my parents. Driving to and fro, three hours in traffic to make it all work; staying out of the house, while there is literally an offer on the table. We will sell our home tonight. I should be happy. We bought our dream house. I should be happy. I can have a glass of wine now; a hot bath; be happy. My child is well. He sees his Nana and Papa every single day. My family and friends are healthy. We both still have our jobs. I should be happy.

I am happy.

But I am also sad. Less than I would have imagined. Because I know how things go.

But I also know that we have had our share of no and not and not this time.

And we have just one embryo left. Those odds do not make me feel happy. And if some part of me believes that belief will manifest this. Change the outcome. Affect all that future happiness. I am doubtful that I can muster it.

This is my last shot. And I’m a practical person. I am not a betting woman.

I only bet if I know I will win; an asset and a flaw.

I am trying to remember that I can still be happy. Under the sad I feel right now. It feels ungrateful.

And if I think too much I am numb about it. If I think just the right amount, I remember that I got pregnant the first time. Just one.

That is all I need.

Don’t get me started.

Sometimes they act their age

It was my first day back to teaching in a pandemic. It went better than expected. But I made the mistake of logging onto a local PARENTING group, where the mom of a four-year-old was railing about how livid she was to get a phone call from her school because her precious four-year-old was running from the classroom to go find their cousins, touching everyone and their stuff, and doing what – in normal times – would be annoying but fairly harmless.

I Cannot describe the anger rising in me as I read pile-on of Teacher hating that ensued. More comments of the 72 posts and then I care to count characterized teachers as lazy, and recommended escalating it to the superintendent. How dare they call me! How dare they address this behavior… Which let’s be honest, isn’t the safest in a non-pandemic, given that we are legally responsible for the safety of your child as they’re running from room to room, as well as the safety of the other 25 children you have to leave unattended while your free-spirited delight goes on a bender around the school.

So I responded.

And felt slight relief reading the only other supportive comment: “Yeah blame lazy teachers for doing the jobs of teaching and acting as public health nurses and security. Slow clap for you.”

What I wish people would consider is this:

Being a parent is hard. And so is teaching. What I would appreciate is if more of the comments would take into account that teachers and admin are as freaked out as everyone else. It’s a lot to handle a class full of energetic little people. Especially brand new ones with whom you don’t have a relationship yet, coming from all kinds of different situations in the middle of this pandemic. In normal circumstances teachers have patience, resources and time to work on these skills. And the training required to support each student. However, when students won’t or aren’t able to follow social distancing protocols – please try to remember that those protocols and safety measures put in place are the only things protecting teachers, their families and the rest of your children from potentially spreading the virus. Parents want classes as schools to be open, but they also expect them to be safe.

If you have had your own child or children at home with you for all these months, you know how difficult it is to get even a few to follow instructions all at the same time. Now imagine the stress of eight hours in a classroom with children, who you adore because you do love your job, but who you have to convince -against all their normal impulses- to do the things that the government has promised are being done to prevent the spread of Covid. That is a huge responsibility and hasn’t even covered the ‘teaching’ part. I am alarmed at the number of comments here that treat teachers as adversaries, or characterize them as lazy. The tone here is scary and wilfully misunderstands the job that elementary teachers are expected to do. Why would you treat the people that you trust to take care of your children like incompetent “hired help’ that are somehow beneath you?Honestly, you could not pay me enough to teach elementary school in 2020.

Even though your frustration at being called by the school is completely understandable, because you are tired, and stressed, and imagining weeks upon weeks of this is unbearable, please remember that more than ever Schools are extremely under resourced, especially with the huge responsibility teachers have to not just teach, but protect these classes from the spread of a virus. I don’t think it reflects on the professionalism or capacity of the school staff. They are in an impossible situation. I one hundred percent empathize with how frustrating it is to have a phone call to come get your tiny child – Who is doing exactly what children do at that age… Not listening. But imagine you are the other parents in this class.. and one child’s jog around the school to find his cousin could have huge ramifications for the health of everyone in that school. That’s just the reality. It’s not your child’s fault; it’s not your fault and it’s not the teachers’ fault. The plans have been changed so many times, with almost no input from staff, and they’re being asked to do way beyond what was required in any normal school year. Parents are frustrated, teachers are scared. A little more patience on all of our part, and a recognition that this is not going to be an easy transition, will get us through…working with the teacher rather than seeing them as an adversary will help everybody move forward, And isn’t that the relationship you want to have with the person who’s gonna be taking care of your beautiful precocious son?

Momspiration

GET TO KNOW… ASquaredMamaSquared

Allia is a Senior Producer at Verizon Media and Alison is a High School English and Drama Teacher. They are mamas to Kingston Grey, 20 months old.

Very excited to share this feature on our family, from the website Ani and Wren (a maternity-wear and baby store in Toronto, Ontario). All photos are by Trish Mennell.

Momspiration

TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR FERTILITY JOURNEY — CAN YOU SHARE A BIT ABOUT THE PROCESS, THE CHALLENGES AND THE SURPRISES? HOW DID YOU DECIDE THAT ALISON WOULD BE THE ONE TO CARRY THE BABY?

AC: As a queer couple, we knew that we wouldn’t have what some people see as a conventional approach to pregnancy. We both had an interest in carrying and, for us, deciding what donor process we would use helped to shape our decisions. We wanted our children, if we had several, to be biologically related to one another, so we had to explore some different options. Ultimately, fate decided some things for us.


AM: Because I was older we decided that I would try carrying first. We quickly encountered lots of surprises and challenges. The fertility industry wasn’t as progressive as we had hoped. Forms we filled out didn’t have options like “no man in the relationship” which led to one of our first intake forms saying, “Diagnosis — same-sex couple.” Additionally, we found ourselves having to educate people, including medical staff at various clinics and even at the hospital, about the specifics of how a same-sex couple comes to find themselves expecting. One of these trips to the hospital happened after my second miscarriage. Getting pregnant was easy for me, keeping the baby was the hard part. After two years of trying, I decided to take a break for my mental and physical health. 

AC: That meant that I was on deck. With me carrying, we chose a donor with a similar background as Allia, Jamaican-Irish; it was really important to us, as an interracial couple, that our kids have a similar racial background. It worked out pretty beautifully. Our son looks like both of us and we love that whomever is with Kingston is automatically assumed to be the mother. Obviously we both ARE the mother, but you’d be surprised how many people ask bold, often ignorant questions. A lot of people are still not used to seeing children with two moms, or even with different backgrounds from one or both parents (whether that be multi-racial or blended families, adoption, surrogacy, etc). Of course, we are just happy that he is healthy and ours.

Momspiration - Kingston + Mom

CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW YOU FELT WHEN YOUR SON WAS BORN? WHAT WERE SOME OF THE EMOTIONS THAT YOU FELT? HOW DID THE FIRST “100” DAYS GO (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE MEMORABLE 4TH TRIMESTER)?

AM: You really can’t prepare yourself for the moment of seeing your child for the first time. I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude for our midwives and our doula. But I was also fully fearful of the realness of motherhood, and just stunned at Alison’s strength during labour. The first 100 days included moments where we’d look at each other and joyfully say, “we have a baby!” or “we’re parents!” There were also lots of conversations around poop. 

AC: I felt everything! Literally, too, since the epidural only worked on one side of my body. I was so in love from the minute I knew I was pregnant, then even more once he was born. You think you love your partner, then you meet your child and you think “not like THIS.” It’s terrifying to care so much about something, and anxiety-provoking to love and want to protect this tiny, fragile little person. I didn’t know how I would do with “mothering” to be honest. I love teaching high school aged kids, but babies were a bit of a mystery, so I was relieved at how much I enjoyed it. He was a very happy baby, so that definitely helped.

Allison + Allia + Kingston

WE LOVE THE NAME KINGSTON GREY – IS HE NAMED AFTER ANYONE?

AC: It was a natural pick for us and we agreed quickly on his name. I grew up with a cottage on Wolfe Island, spending much of my childhood in Kingston, Ontario. Allia was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and those roots hold a deep significance for her. His name reflects our two worlds and how he is a blend of both. With a mouthful of a last name, we wanted a short, strong middle name. I’m a big fan of Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray), with one letter changed, it’s a nod to queer literary history.

Momspiration Family

AS A GAY INTERRACIAL COUPLE, HOW DO YOU PLAN ON ADDRESSING ISSUES OF RACE, RACISM AND SEXUALITY WITH YOUR SON. WE KNOW HE IS STILL YOUNG, BUT HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE CONVERSATIONS YOU WILL HAVE?

AM: For a lot of individuals who identify as BIPOC or are part of the LGBTQ+ community, we find ourselves talking about race, racism and sexuality frequently. As a couple, we have always been open about our fertility journey and our queer identity. And I don’t shy away from conversations around my multi-racial identity. We are conscious of the images Kingston sees, the media he might consume and we recognize the importance of diversity and celebrating difference in all aspects of our life. My hope is that he will feel we have created a safe, brave space for him to be curious about these issues so we can have open, honest conversations.

AC: In some ways those choices and conversations are just a natural part of raising a child. You reflect what you value in the choices you make. And the discussions that might seem awkward or difficult become second nature when you are proud of who you are, who you love and your heritage. Removing shame from the equation really opens up the possibility of raising a child in a deliberate, celebratory way; we hope to raise a little person who is gentle, thoughtful, courageous, open-hearted and with a generous spirit. He is growing in an incredible community of strong, vibrant people. He has great role-models and sees different cultures, sexualities and love all around him. 

Allia + Kingston

HOW HAVE YOU BEEN COPING WITH THE CURRENT CLIMATE IN THE WAKE OF THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT. HAVE YOU FELT SUPPORTED BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY? WHAT HAVE YOUR WORK AND YOUR FRIENDS DONE THAT YOU HAVE FOUND ENCOURAGING?

AM: My commitment has always been to celebrate difference and drive diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives. Because of the positions I hold within my job and my volunteer work, I’ve found myself in daily conversations around race, anti-black racism and diversity or the lack of it. Cue the extreme exhaustion. I’ve learned to lean into the discomfort with these conversations and create a brave space for others to center courage, care and vulnerability over silence. It’s not easy. I’m not alone in feeling the weight of the opportunity to redefine our reality. I have an amazing support system around me, both personally and professionally, who continue to recognize my fluctuating needs during this difficult time. They’ve stepped up their allyship by listening to my experiences and educating themselves on the issues surrounding systemic racism. I’ve seen many start to self-examine their own privilege and move from ally to accomplice by taking actions to support the black community. I’m encouraged by all of this because the issues we are facing aren’t going to be solved in one or two meetings, one or two actions; however, we can start by listening, self-examining, and practicing allyship through continued actions and conversations. My hope is that this is a movement and not just a moment. When anti-racism isn’t trending, will you still be there?


AC: I am committed to making changes, looking at my own bias/privilege and using the power I am afforded as a straight-passing, cis, white woman to make changes and amplify the voices of those within marginalized communities. It’s an ongoing journey and a responsibility to fight for change. At work, I’m part of my union’s Rights and Equity Committee. At my school, I am the GSA advisor, and an Equity Lead, helping to plan and facilitate professional development for our staff, including anti-black racism forums. In my classroom, I explicitly embed diverse sexualities, gender and cultural representation in the media, social issues and discussions, but there is a huge gap in core literature, so I’m doing an inventory and working to enrich our courses with Black and Indigenous content. I’m excited for two upcoming summer PD sessions, a racial justice and anti-racist learning series, to build my capacity in effective allyship and dismantling systemic racism. I want our son to grow up to see that meaningful change is in our hands. I am seeing, more and more, that my board and my colleagues are talking about, but also prioritizing this work and it makes me feel very hopeful. 

Allia

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHARITIES YOU SUPPORT, BOOKS THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING OR MOVIES/SHOWS THAT YOU HAVE WATCHED THAT HAVE IMPACTED YOU?

AM: We are supporters of the Inside Out Film Festival, SickKids, as well as mental health and equity initiatives through both of our work and personal relationships. We try to support local, whenever possible. 

AC: Both of us have been involved in creative projects with an amazing independent Toronto Publisher, With/out Pretend, whose work centers on the idea that “Feelings Can Be Art.” That really resonates with us. In addition to doing a collection and live readings called “On Mothering,” which we loved, they explore concepts of care, mental health and self-expression, featuring writers of colour, women, non-binary and often underrepresented authors and artists. We both have big stacks of books on our night tables; I just finished Empire of Wild, and I’m currently reading White Fragility, Wow, No Thank You and The Book of Joy.

AM: I’m juggling Well-Read Black Girl and A Brief History of Seven Killings. We just bought lots of exciting stuff for Kingston, including Hair Love, Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History, I Am Enoughand Red: A Crayon’s Story. Don’t even get us started on television or podcasts!

Allison

WE JUST CAME TO THE END OF PRIDE MONTH — WHAT DOES “PRIDE” MEAN TO YOU?

AC: I came out when I was sixteen and have celebrated every year since, almost always on Church Street. We took Kingston to Family Pride events last year and that sense of fierce pride, celebration and community is what I want to share with him. I have been so lucky to have unconditional support from my family and we want him, above all else, to know that our love for him is constant and unwavering. Raising a son, we think a lot about what kind of man he will become, but also recognize that he is an individual; whether he is gay, straight, bi, trans… our child will be secure in our love. We want him to see us actively celebrating all kinds of people and identities. To help pave the way, we make some pretty deliberate decisions; we don’t steer him towards stereo-typically masculine toys, clothes, haircuts or expression. He is as likely to hand us The ABCs of Equality, as Little Blue Truck; he has pink jungle-print leggings and a baseball cap; loves his black baby doll and his blocks. We want to leave all options open, to see where he wants to go and who he wants to be.

AM: My journey towards self-acceptance was challenging. Raised religious, I struggled with my identity for most of my life. I’ve come a long way to embrace all aspects of myself. Finding power in one part of my identity has helped me feel pride in the others. It’s hard to love all of yourself if one part is being pushed aside. Pride is also about helping others feel comfortable being them self. As a mother, I would never want my son to feel he couldn’t be his full, authentic self. 

Momspiration Family

ANY LAST WORDS OF WISDOM OR ADVICE FOR OTHER MAMAS OUT THERE? IS THERE A QUOTE OR MANTRA YOU LIVE BY?

AM: These words, by Katherine W. Phillips, sum up my personal, professional and mom-mantra: “The environment I wish to create in all aspects of my life will be one where difference is normalized. If you create that kind of environment in your organizations, in your schools, in your families, you will find that the value of diversity is there for you to capture.”

News in a world of news

Remember when the simple act of brunch with family was something we took for granted? And someone to take the photo for you?

So much has changed. We are both working from home now, and taking care of our little one. Plus we just found out that I am pregnant. It’s everything you wanted, but it’s also totally terrifying in this moment.

I just keep focused on what I can control: my actions and my mindset. I get to be with the people I love and connect with others remotely.

Keep supporting those who depend on you – for us that is our daycare provider and cleaning lady. If you are fortunate enough to still be employed please remember that you are part of this ecosystem and people rely on you to feed their families. We have to seriously look at our privileges and put our hardships into perspective. That doesn’t mean I can’t be sad that I won’t see my mom and dad for … Indefinitely. Or that I need to feel totally relaxed when any and all prenatal screenings may be cancelled… indefinitely. But I have to remember how lucky we are to still have things that others are scrambling for, to be together (while some of my students have parents stranded abroad), to have some more toilet paper in the cupboard, to have a enough of a balance on my credit card to order the $400 worth of groceries to last a month… even though we couldn’t get a delivery window until two weeks from now. We are lucky that I am creative in the kitchen and can stretch our freezer and canned items for as long as it will take. We are so fortunate.

As the crisis rapidly evolves, I wish I were as confident that the rest of the people with means were also prepared to tow the line. I wish we could just trust one another to help make this as safe as possible and to alleviate the fear by coordinating our efforts. Alas…

When this is all over we will have all done jobs that aren’t ours, seen people at their best and their worst. Be compassionate with yourself and remember we are in this together!!

Send a hug, virtual if need be, to those you love.

Brave

Remember that trend for posting makeup-free selfies and how people were posturing like that was a ‘brave’ thing to do. Yes, maybe ‘brave’ considering what judgemental fucks most people are and how much pressure there is to be beautiful while also killing it at work, school and life. But that’s every day now. During the quarantine, I put on moisturizer and lip balm, maybe some mascara out of habit… but this is life now. I shower every other day. Not bragging, just saying.

You know what is brave? The people fulfilling essential services: the cashier who is stalwartly ‘not touching his face’ while making sure people coming home (too late) from Florida can stock up on groceries; the mail delivery person who is handling letters and parcels from god-knows-where, touching every person’s mailbox; the transit workers; the front-line workers, like police officers, EMS, fire fighters, nurses; the people who walk into situations we are all shuddering at – to make sure that we stay safe and healthy, or are taken care of if we are neither of these things. There are people providing mental health services (CAMH) or the Bridgeway Early On centres, posting contact info and resources for parents struggling with anxiety during this time. There are courageous individuals reaching out to those with food insecurity, people who can’t self-isolate because they are homeless, and so many people in industries like the arts, gig workers and service workers who are facing uncertainty… but still offering up hope via live-streamed yoga classes and concerts, bake along with me recipes via Instagram and community prescription pickups and outreach.

Cheers to the parent working from home, while also working to care for their children (both full-time jobs). To the person who is paying their workers while profits evaporate along with the money to pay their bills. Services like Netflix and Amazon are booming, and being stuck at home we are using more of the utilities that continue to charge full price to light our homes, power our stoves, wash and sanitize our clothing and dishes. Will those companies start to give back? To cut us some slack?

The government is trying to pivot as quickly as they can to consider further measures, supports like deferring mortgages (when renters are still wondering what will happen to them), and EI, while some people are still trying to pull of ‘full-time’ hours from home (or worse – going in to the office). While others, like gig and shift workers are facing reduced shifts, no prospect to make a living and uncertainty about who will qualify for government relief.

It’s hard not to be frightened when we are facing a threat we cannot see. And when I care about everyone, and can do so little to protect all the people I care about. And, yet, we are connecting, even as we isolate and pull away physically. But the daily habits have shifted and anxiety underlies so much of what we do.

I have been living in leggings and sweat shirts, stripping anything that goes ‘outdoors’ off as soon as we come back in – as though the air of a grocery store or public park might get me. Waves of news of the virus wash over us and make us feel like the breeze of a passing car might knock the exhaled air from the couple strolling across the street into you, pushing it up your nostrils.

But I have also been Facetiming with friends, from BC to around the block. We have dance parties, virtually, we cheers. We are in this together. I am journalling. How else will we get through this? It also helps to put all these feelings down and check my mindset. I wonder, will things ever be the same? I look at the photos that pop up as screensavers, of my friends smiling, definitely less than 2 metres apart. I see tv shows now, through the lens of a person who is following protocol; that bar hookup, that airplane seat, sharing those nachos… just not cautious (I note, mentally). This has changed me.

Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 7.05.26 AM

Maybe it has also changed us for the better, or at least certain parts of how we go about our lives in this world. Will it make us more grateful? Will we take better care of each other? Will companies explicitly value the lives and health of their employees? Will we work from home more? Take airplanes less? Will we take better care of the planet? Will more people stop consuming meat? Shut down the consumption of exotic animals? Will our governments become more proactive? Will we invest in healthcare systems that are better able to handle whatever may come, and stop operating at maximum capacity as par for the course? Will we put our money where our mouth is… and actually invest in the people, research and future we see wavering in front of us now that we are afraid of what will or won’t be? Will we connect with those around us more deliberately?

 

Notes from the quarantine

My friend posted that she was tired of the pressure-filled, aspirational memes and was hoping to just get dinner on the table. I get it. But…

I feel better having something to fill the time with and given that all my actual plans, like preparing the house to move, have been derailed… it makes me happy to feel like I’m at least doing some yoga with our wee one.

I am looking for ways to make this feel purposeful instead of aimless and never ending, because there’s part of me that wonders if this is never ending. It’s a fear I don’t let myself spend too much time thinking about otherwise my anxiety would be through the roof. I know that in order to stay healthy I need to sleep, so I try to avoid really thinking about whether two weeks, or three weeks of Quarantine and self isolation will make a difference, and what we will do after. And my brain just starts to reel.

Today would normally be St. Patrick’s day. It’s the day my parents met; a lucky day for my family, though we don’t go all green beer and ‘kiss me I’m Irish’. Whatever minimal celebrating we usually do will be replaced alternate self-isolation plans… by activity stations to keep our son occupied: Building boxes and stacking them. Moving tennis balls from one box to another. Toilet paper tubes taped to the wall with objects dropped in. Yoga. Nature walk. Noah’s ark goes to the stairs. Normally I would never encourage him to play on the stairs. Boxing and unboxing the car set that is in our basement.

We got the advice from my sister-in-law to give over every room, except the master bedroom, to activities for Kingston. Each room should have some new thing to try or task, or toys he’s familiar with but in a new context. Set it up the night before and let him have his time in each new space exploring these items – whether that takes 10 minutes for half an hour.

We are dividing and conquering the working from home, which for me is marking 33 essays, and for her is a pseudo-normal workday, just with a child at home and none of her usual work stuff. Today we’re trying hour-long shifts and all meals together.

When I put things in perspective from a sweet point of view, getting to have him with me all the time, though exhausting, means that I get to see all the little things that he’s working on, like counting one then two as he points to things, or saying ‘up’ and then down as he steps up the stairs and, obviously, back down again. He is teething which means red cheeks and snotty nose, so keeping him home because he looks ill is what would be happening anyways in these heightened measures. 

Hang in there everyone.

I hear him coming down the stairs. It’s 7 am. Let the day begin.

Fertility in a Pandemic

It has been very strange to plan a future when people are in a state of panic. Our last frozen embryo transfer was unsuccessful, and we approached this one with an open heart and mind. But things are changing rapidly; the front desk staff at the clinic asked for our health cards… then instructed us to hold them up visibly, rather than taking them in hand. The news and all the messages on my phone, there and back, were about Covid-19, and then I received a message at then end of the day – Ontario schools are going into a two week shut-down to combat the spread of the virus.

It feels bizarre to wonder about whether I’ll become pregnant, while also talking to our son’s daycare provider about whether she will stay open during this time; to wonder if I’ll get paid while schools are shut down; whether we will be able to afford to continue paying our daycare provider; whether prices for things we take for granted will skyrocket; if I will be able to go into the clinic in 12 days for a blood test to see if I’m pregnant? It’s life or… not life, but not life or death, as it is for some.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have it. Justin Trudeau is in self-isolation, as is the first lady of Canada. I have no idea how the next weeks or months will go. The kids at school tomorrow will be out of their minds. This is so unprecedented. Strangely there IS school tomorrow, but not following that until April 5th, 2020 (it’s March 12th today).

What do we know? The Premier announced all schools will be closed. There was not even a rumbling of this at school yesterday. This, at least, minimizes the chances that 2000 children, and by extension their families (siblings at different schools, teammates at other schools, and parents at various workplaces), will be passing it back and forth across communities. This is good news, if we didn’t trust that self-reporting and self-isolation measures, or that we would be able to trust people to read press-releases, school bulletins and check government websites and then follow best-practices. I can’t trust people to keep their phones away for a 70 minute period, or turn off their phone at the Ballet Trockadero of Monte Carlo performance, so this might have been wishful thinking.

But a province-wide shutdown of our education system? I would never have expected it.

This will be more time with my little one, but what will that time look like? Today at 4:30 pm: We are sitting on the playmat, watching him sip the cup and say ‘aaaaahhhh,’ making the noises of elephants and lions and sheep. Everyday life is unfolding, but there is a suspended feeling of disbelief at what else is looming. Does anyone ever feel like life is about to change drastically before the world shifts? In movies people are ill-prepared. Situations escalate rapidly. Panic ensues.

If it was just me, I would feel so confident.

It isn’t about me, except that it’s about what I care about. My child. My wife. My parents, sibling, nieces, nephews, in-laws, friends. My students. Will the IVF transfer be successful…seems pretty distant on the priority list right now.

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Two ends of the spectrum. Two sides of my heart. My father – currently part of a high-risk group (senior citizens and people with respiratory illness, compromise immune systems and diabetes) with my son when he was two and a half months old (children are faring well, statistically). 

Pregnant women seem to be fine, but what are the longterm effects? I’m more worried, in some ways, about the way people will react and not how the illness will impact me, personally. The panic and not the virus are what has me most concerned.

When things get tough, people usually go one of two ways – they open up and rise above, showing the capacity of humans to band together as communities… or they tear each other apart. Primal and terrible.

I am reminded of a post I saw about how people are preparing, fearfully, trying to inoculate ourselves and families with plans that make us feel safer.. and in that moment, the writer reminded us that in this moment we should think long and hard about our views on refugees – who are fleeing from famine and war. Some people, as they stockpile hand sanitizer, need to reassess their views on people who are in situations they cannot possibly comprehend.

I didn’t need to be reminded of that; I’m already a convert. But it makes me think that maybe in all the struggle there is some learning. We could be so much better to one another. Look out for one another. Trust each other. Keep each other safe. Share more (not bacteria, but supplies, information…); the same countries that made headlines as threats to our economies and ways of life (in recent and more distant stories) are the ones now sharing statistics, strategies, protective measures and protocols.

None of this is what I planned to write. This was a baby-making-journey blog. It’s also the place I spill it, whatever needs spilling.

I hope everyone who reads this is happy, healthy and safe.

Last time, Feb. 4th, 2020, I envisioned the poetry of getting pregnant exactly two years from the day I first conceived. Our son was the first embryo transfer, our joyous success story. It felt fated that our second would follow so serendipitously. Things didn’t work out that way. People joked that our son didn’t want to share his birthday.

Now, as we stare down the barrel(?) of a global outbreak, I wonder at the timing.

Ready set go.

I feel this incredible buzz of excitement as I walked back to my car. A nurse named Maya has just given me a shot of overdrill, with love she says. She said it was staying, but after having me cough and count backwards from 100, I hardly felt a thing,; it might be because I’ve already given birth to a 10 pound baby, and I consider myself to be quite a tough cookie. Or it might be because I’m super excited. We’ve done a round of cycle monitoring, and everything looks ideal for a frozen embryo transfer… here we go baby number two. The most exciting part for me right now, aside from having stats that all look like we are on the right path, is that the transfer is booked for exactly 2 years from the date that Kingston was conceived. What are the odds? I feel like it’s a good sign. I am cautiously optimistic, which, I think is how it always has to go when you’re dealing with the human body and odds like these. We have fried frozen embryos but I feel a certain sense of excitement and like my body is aligned, ready for this. I wonder if because of the circumstances around our first pregnancies with my wife, I didn’t ever let myself be as hopeful as my personality tends to be when we tried for our first. Maybe this time, knowing that my body can do this I will let myself feel all the feelings. High and low. Right now, so high.  

Maya said I look like One of those strong women from the 1940s, Rosie the riveter,; I am dressing the part. I didn’t even realize until we left the house together that Kingston and I are matching. Red is my power color, with little zebra prints on my hair band, and he is in buffalo check – my little Canadian lumberjack.

Stats: Ready to book. Ovidril. Report. Follicle at 20 mm. ExActly. 854 estrogen level. Close to surge LH IS AT 12. Surge is more than 20. A shot today won’t compromise. lining is 14 ( need more than 7). Transfer needs full bladder. Three glasses of water one hour before. 3 cups of water. Transfer on Tuesday. Start endometrin tomorrow night. Thursday pm. Then Friday start three per day. All the way until pregnancy test. 12 days after transfer. And take endometrin morning of transfer. Tuesday transfer time: 11 am on Tuesday. Arrive ten 10 Before transfer.

And this is me and my first babe. Just snuggling and enjoying some milk.

2 Become 3

These were our last photos as a duo… I took them a few days before he arrived . Bring on the newest member of our crew!!!

Now he has been with us for a whole year! We can hardly believe it. The bursting sensation, as your heart explodes with love is so beautiful that it is, in some ways, painful. I can hardly bear it – I love him so. I have found a patience in myself that I never knew existed. Perhaps it’s because all my tired frustration is deflected onto my partner?

For the next little while I’ll be going back through drafts of things I never published, but meant to – to comment on whether these things still feel the same and whether time has given me more perspective.

From here, it looks pretty blissful.

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