International Parents and Children Day, Ectopic Pregnancy, & Remembering those struggling to be parents

International Parents and Children Day, Ectopic Pregnancy, & Remembering those struggling to be parents

Two years ago, I had just been discharged from hospital, having had urgent, life-saving surgery rather than on a plane for our honeymoon. We had found out, completely unexpectedly, a week previously, that I was pregnant, but the HcG levels were not high enough nor doubling. I had insisted on seeing a private obstetrician despite my GP telling me that everything was normal and that bleeding continuously for six months was “normal”. Thank goodness for a private, very no-nonsense obstetrician who immediately said “that’s not normal” and started a series of tests including an ultrasound. I recall watching the ultrasound screen intently and thinking that this wasn’t how I had hoped to find out about being pregnant. There was no heart beat and the scan showed the pregnancy to be in my fallopian tube. We then had to decide between taking methotrexate or surgery. Methotrexate might save the tube, but it wasn’t clear whether one dose would be enough,  would be effective, and whether I would have to have surgery anyway. As we had been trained in hypnobirthing, we asked lots of questions: What were the risks? What were the benefits? What was an alternative course of action? What if we did nothing? Given the large size of the pregnancy, that my tube was likely to be scarred (and thus increase the risk of a subsequent ectopic pregnancy) and that methotrexate stays in maternal tissues for some time, and we desperately wanted another baby, we chose surgery. It seems simultaneously like yesterday as well as a long time ago. I frequently think of that baby to be – I hope he or she knew, even before formation, that s/he was wanted. We named this child to be. As  I collected him or her from the laboratory (who had kindly used a beautiful box), I remember desperately hoping that the next baby would be brought home wrapped in our arms, not a gift box.

While sadness does not necessarily go away, it can co-exist with joy. Two years later, we are overjoyed at the miracle of being able to be parents to an amazing child who is with us and who makes our world that much brighter. Today, on International Parents and Children day, in addition to thinking of families, I’d like to send love to all those who struggle and yearn to be parents, including those trying IVF, AI, donors, surrogates, fostering, and adoption. I hope your dreams come true.

Part of healing has been gardening. I love this quote:

Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes it is a triumph of hope over experience – Maria Schinz

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Fairy Gardens & Foetal Stem Cells

Fairy Gardens & Foetal Stem Cells

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In November, to celebrate our daughter’s 2nd birthday we made a fairy garden for her as well as a smaller one for our little baby to be who we lost ectopically.

Our daughter’s godmother read one of my favourite poems at the service we had to celebrate the 40 weeks of her life.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart) by e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Because formatting is so important to e.e.cummings poems, you may want to see this in the correct format:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/179622

In a very related, but more biological, way, my lovely friend Victoria, a biologist, told me about how cells from babies (even those lost) remain in a mother’s brain (and perhaps can repair hearts). See her beautiful blog for an exceptional read:

A piece of you: fetal cells live on in their mother’s brains

Roses and Zucchini

Roses and Zucchini

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Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old Time is still a-flying
And this same rose that smiles today
Tomorrow may be dying
Robert Herrick

Cos if you don’t gather ’em, you may get a fright, thinking they’re an animal, and find your zukes have become marrows….

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Early pumpkin, morning dilemma, semantic network of memory, overthinking

Early pumpkin, morning dilemma, semantic network of memory, overthinking

It was 5am when Bear (the name we gave our baby from 5 weeks in utereo to avoid “it”) decided he wanted to wake for the day. This was especially a problem because he had finally fallen asleep at 10pm (and there was that minor issue of the 1-2 hourly wakes). Anyway, rocking and feeding in almost complete darkness seemed to convince him that he was not missing out (seriously, this child has a bad case of Fear Of Missing Out #fomo) and he was asleep an hour later. Then the dilemma, with my husband away these days, should I chance the neighbourhood cats and put out the rubbish, assuming that we would get an hours sleep? Or, should I capitalise on sleep while I could and risk sleeping in past the rubbish collection (hohoho re sleep in) or needing to run out onto the street with rubbish bags and carrying Bear?

As I pondered this, blearily, some joy appeared thinking of this delightful
Ted talk by Rives, about some unusual 4am coincidences. It hasn’t been 4am, but you get the idea.

The associations that I made highlight the nature of memory: memory ‘nodes’ of information are connected in a semantic network such that related memories are linked. That’s one reason, according to the rumination (overthinking) guru, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, why thinking (perhaps even innocuously) about something results in retrieving even more (related) thoughts…

And, back to the topic of ‘early’, I am so entranced and happy with this first, early pumpkin. Appropriate to my starting topic, I bought these seeds because the variety is ‘Baby Bear’.

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Kale, Shoulds, and a Nourishment Diet

Kale, Shoulds, and a Nourishment Diet

I have been surprised at how well kale has grown in my new garden and I’ve been using it a lot, including in smoothies. I’m trying to eat more whole foods and more of what we grow.

On the matter of diets, something many of us attempt in the new year, I have more to say, but in this post, I’d like to focus on ‘shoulds’; which count as their own category of cognitive distortion in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. In fact, Fairburn and colleagues suggest, in relation to eating disorders, that clinical perfection may be the implicated. Clinical perfectionism is characterised amongst other things by this overwhelming sense of ‘should’.When we think we should do something it results in very different feelings than when we think we could do it. One is characterised by a sense of having failed already while the other is associated with a sense of choices. In a related vein, one of my friends shared this fantastic ‘anti anxiety diet‘ blog post which I think is fabulous. I really like the sentiment about choosing foods based on nourishment and self love rather than based on what should be eaten.

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Asparagus peas, Salsify, and Sleep

Asparagus peas, Salsify, and Sleep

I have yet to grow salsify (‘vegetable oyster’) successfully – the first lot bolted with small roots and the second lot doesn’t seen to have germinated (I did cast them with abandon in the soil; I was holding my son at the time and could just manage to throw the seeds). They have glorious purple flowers though.

I have noticed that asparagus peas (another novelty that I primarily grew as ground cover and a nitrogen fixer; oh, and because I could not resist buying such novel sounding seeds) and salisfy is that they seem to close up their leaves and flowers, respectively, heading towards the evening, for some shut eye.

Asparagus peas

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Sigh. Elusive sleep. It started in pregnancy with the concern about our baby and then progressed into regular monitoring (using our home Doppler if we couldn’t feel movement, then polyhydramnios meant excruciating pain when I slept on my side and then there was the hospital vacation for the month before birth. Ever tried to sleep while someone is in labour? Our ward was right next to the delivery suites. Still, sleep feels like a very small sacrifice for this amazing live child we have.

I’ve long given up the hope of sleeping through the night (defined for infants, as I understand, as 5 consecutive hours of sleep). Rather, the best thing about being woken up every 2 hours? It sure beats being woken up at 30-90 minute intervals.

There seems to be no shortage of research about the importance of sleep. It started with my husband (who seems to manage to sleep through the night; more than 5 hours of sleep) sending me a link to an article about how poor sleep was associated with poorer memory. Joy. I seem to see something about sleep almost daily! Perhaps the topic is just more salient…

I’ve seen some great Ted talks re: sleep and found that there is a playlist. There’s a neuroscience perspective on why we sleep and another about poor sleep being associated with greater amyloid beta, implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Whoo hoo.

After reading other things including recommendations that people improve their sleep to improve wellbeing (! I wished), I wondered whether there were any positives of losing sleep during motherhood. I’d had about 4.5 hours of sleep (If I glued all the various bits together) so I asked my husband. He said that I was doing something valuable, caring and being with our son (Awww, I thought, how true). I’d also have, he continued, a better appreciation of why sleep deprivation was used as a torture technique.

Back to asparagus peas….

Unfortunately, they do not taste good fried. Will try steaming the next batch…

Any tips for growing salsify and cooking asparagus peas?

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