Yesterday We Shouted

Yesterday was a tough day at the office. Toddlers are not easy people to understand, or reason with, because they  possess practically none of either thing. And yet I find myself arguing and trying to reason with one almost every day.

And not just any toddler, my toddler. He’s the image of his dad but he’s a mirror of me in lots of ways. Good ways yes, but like me he’s also stubborn, headstrong, and likes getting his own way. (Although when people accuse me of always wanting my own way I always wonder, who doesn’t?!) Every day I find myself trying to outwit a two year old, and feeling delighted with myself whenever I manage it. But yesterday I was not winning. And I resorted to shouting.

What did it achieve? Tears from him, followed closely by tears of frustration and guilt from me. I don’t want to be a shouty mother – so how can I preach at him every day not to shout if it’s what I resort to myself?

And so it was a day of watching the clock and waiting for Gavin to arrive home to save my sanity.  Even Alex – normally the most calm, smiley, happiest baby I’ve ever met – was having a bad day and wouldn’t accept being anywhere other than in my arms. Normally I love that and I’m happy to oblige in his pudgy cuddles, but yesterday wasn’t a normal day. And so it was a day of frustration, trying to catch up with myself, trying to calm a crying baby while trying to reason with a shouting toddler. And I cracked, and I shouted at him.

Sometimes I feel like, because we did IVF, that sometimes it’s as if I’m not entitled to complain about things. I had two pregnancies that I didn’t really enjoy, there was a lot of sickness and vomiting for months on end, and with Alex I had to have weekly blood transfusions to try and prevent a rare condition Rian had when he was born. It was tough. And yet I felt a huge guilt for  not enjoying them because of what we had to do to get there. And now I’m so grateful and so proud to be a mother of two, and sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t talk too much about how hard it sometimes is, because after all I should be on my knees every day, thankful for the fact we have two beautiful boys after the threat of never having any. Against the odds, we have two boys.

But some days I shout. And cry. Some days Gavin and I argue over the most ridiculous things – some days I don’t even remember what it is we’re bickering over. At one stage we argued over which of us got to have more sleep the night before! Some days I feel such ridiculous resentment that he can get up, swan into the shower and have a leisurely relaxing stand under the lovely hot water, when I have to wait for an opportunity when someone else is here before I can do the same. Whether or not my hair gets washed depends on how long someone else can watch the boys. He gets to go about his normal life; develop his career, make decisions over interesting things, have a lunch break, have a coffee that won’t go cold because someone threw up everywhere and by the time you finished cleaning it, the coffee was cold and you just aren’t bothered in making another one.

Sometimes I just miss me. Getting dressed properly – not just putting on something that looks like crap because at least when you get covered in baby puke and someone else’s dinner it doesn’t matter. Taking time to do something with my hair instead of just tying it up so it won’t get eaten and pulled. Being asked an opinion on something other than what episode of Thomas the Tank Engine we should watch.

Oh ok, enough of the poor me. Believe me, I know only too well just how lucky we are, how lucky I am to be feeling sorry for myself some days.  Given the choice, I don’t want to be back at work yet. I feel so lucky that I have this time with them both, I’m glad I’m the one that gets to stay at home with them. Given the choice, Gavin would happily stay with them and let me have a long shower or bath, he’s not a bit selfish, not one little bit. But I still can’t help it, some days, I just wish I could be the old me again, even just for a while!

I’ve no doubt, if Gavin was to write a similar article from his perspective, he would write about how he wishes he could have the cuddles and smiles and the gurgly chats from Alex. He’d wish he could listen to Rian’s hilarious stories each day and watch him change and grow, learning new words and new things, doing something every single day to make him laugh. It’s amazing being their mother.

I know how lucky I am, really I do. But some days, I guess there’ll be shouting.











A Year to the Day

Today marks one year to the day that we found out that our third frozen embryo transfer had worked, that I was officially pregnant. That our Alex existed!

Anyone who has undergone fertility treatment will know the torture of that two week wait between the embryo being transferred and doing the test to find out if it has worked. I’ve done it three times now, that’s six weeks of pure hell. Six weeks of fear and dread, excitement and hope, then back to fear and dread again. All felt in the space of just one minute, every minute for two whole weeks.

And then the test result. Suddenly, you realise after having gone through two whole weeks of waiting, you can barely stand to wait the two minutes it takes for the test to show the result. You’re dying to know, and scared to death of knowing all at once. But there it was, in two pink lines! A positive. We could hardly believe our luck. To have success at this for a second time! Unbelievable. We joked we’d have to call the bump Patrick or Patricia for the day that was in it.

Looking at him now, smiling a gummy, drooly smile up at me from his little chair, it’s hard to believe that it’s only been one year. How much life can change in such a short space of time! To think that this day last year, I didn’t know Alex would be Alex. When you’re pregnant for the first time, you imagine what your child might look like. A mini me or a mini Gavin. A mini Gavin with red hair? Or a mini me with no hair?? Will he have my eyes, and Gavin’s smile? It’s fun to imagine.  And when you’re pregnant for a second time, you again imagine what your child might look like, but this time I just imagined another version of Rian.

But I could already tell Alex was going to be a different personality. It’s funny, after your baby is born and  you get to know them, learn their little personalities and traits, you realise that you’ve always known them, they’ve been themselves since before they were even born.

That might sound a bit ridiculous, but looking back at Rian’s pregnancy, he was the same as he is now. He stuck to his own rules; midwives advised I should feel at least 10 kicks a day. Not Rian. That child did things his own way! He didn’t like being woken up during his scans, and he doesn’t like being woken up now. He gets a new lease of life in the evenings, and he almost always only kicked my belly at that time too.

And looking back again on Alex’s pregnancy, I realise again that I’ve always known him even before we officially met. He’s a softer, gentler sort of person. The rare times he cries, it’s almost apologetic. His pregnancy was different too, much calmer in his movements and kicks.

Being someone’s mother forces you to ‘contemplate’ things a lot. A very serious sounding word which conjures up images of Oscar Wilde type people writing beautiful words about dewy grass and the passing sands of time and all that sort of thing. But it’s true! I find myself contemplating quite a lot, thank you!  What sort of men will Rian and Alex become? It’s something I take very seriously – we’re responsible for them, for their childhood and for their future. I really want to do my best to make sure that they become the best people they can be.

And I’m reminded yet again of how much Rian & Alex are actually teaching me about myself. It’s mad really – you think you are there to teach them everything so it’s a big surprise when they start teaching you a few lessons in return.

They’re essentially like little mirrors, reflecting yourself back at you. You find out things about yourself that you simply just didn’t realise. Some are good – seeing Rian hug and cuddle people, and especially Alex, being so gentle and kind. Already knowing his Pleases and Thank Yous. Some, not so good – watching Rian stand at the door and shout ‘Oh Jesus!’ when he dropped his bag on his foot I thought……oh crap.  That sounds a bit like me. I’ll often hear him shout ‘OH CHRIST’! followed by his quick little temper, like little fireworks popping, over and gone in a flash. I can’t imagine who he’s copying with that one…! I think it just makes you look closely at the sort of person you are.

How different our lives are now! When I think of that day when we were told we’d only be able to conceive through IVF, from there to here, it’s more than we ever thought possible. Yet here we are now, a family of four – a year ago, to the day.