Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Missing You

So it's December.

I spent the month of November getting together all of the things I need in order to apply for my Master's program for the Fall of 2014.  Writing letters of intent, asking for references, getting transcripts, updating my CV, busy, busy, busy...  

Sometimes if I think really hard about it, I can get excited about the idea of moving on (up?) in my career, working towards a plan that I've had since I was in nursing school...

...but, lately I can't get the sad, unhappy, disappointing parts of my life out of my head.  I think about Aidan a lot.  I think about Kaia's pregnancy.  I worry about my heart.  I'm sad it's looking less and less likely that there will ever be another baby in our house.  In my head, school looms as the end point. Time to move on.  I feel I'm being dragged, kicking and screaming.

Friends, family and colleagues have asked if we are ever going to have another baby, and I give them all the same answer of "well, after two difficult pregnancies, and one loss we aren't sure it's a good idea..."  Everyone always nods knowingly and agrees it's a big decision and perhaps not in our best interest.

I almost never tell anyone that we've tried....for over year...and failed...  At this point, I find our (mine? his? our?) fertility, or lack thereof harder to talk about than my dead child.  I could chat about Aidan almost any old time, and do to anyone who asks.  Because that sadness, that failure, is old.  His death has  healed over somewhat.  The (likely) loss of Third baby is a new sadness, a new disappointment.  It's still happening.  

Every. Goddamn. Month.


What also screws with my emotions on the subject is that every month, along with the feelings of sadness and disappointment, is, well...


Relief that this isn't the month that I have to start to worry.  About every little twinge.  Any speck of blood.  Any more strain on my heart.  Both literally and figuratively. 

I also feel sad about the relief.  Because maybe it means I really don't want another baby THAT badly.  If I feel relief about not being pregnant, maybe it's only the newness, the wonder, the excitement that a new baby provides that I crave, and not really the baby itself.  There is also relief in the relief...because maybe if I'm relieved now, in 10 years when the possibility of ever having another child is long since past, maybe I won't feel so sad.

Then the guilt comes.  Guilt for not trying harder to fix whatever it is that's wrong.  For denying Kaia the chance at a (living) sibling.  For denying the grandparents the possibility of another grandchild.  For failing both Brian and myself.  We both want this...so why can't we just suck it up and forge ahead. Tons of people do.  Make that RE appointment Emily...just do it.

Then the niggling doubt.

Maybe it's not happening because it's not suppose to.  Maybe your heart wouldn't tolerate it this time.  Maybe it wouldn't be the redemptive pregnancy you dream of.  Maybe it would be a new kind of awful? Or maybe the Breus mole and pPROM (TWICE) isn't a fluke.  Maybe your genetics just suck and it's time to count your blessings and move on. 

Maybe if it happened, you would wish it hadn't...

Then the wondering if we should consider other options.  Adoption?  Surrogacy?  

Both of them seem so far removed from anything I could ever imagine us attempting.  The time, the money, the never-ending hoops to jump through.  Most importantly the wearing of our hearts on our sleeves.  I learned through our experience with Aidan and Kaia that when things get emotional, Brian and I tend to curl into ourselves, praying for privacy and space.  Could we ever make it through either of those processes, laying our hearts bare for strangers to see?  I see it turn out well for people...but what did it take to get there?  What number of sadnesses lay just beneath the surface?  Plus we already have a living child, so it's difficult to imagine anyone with either a child or a womb to donate picking us over the thousands of others who admittedly, probably deserve it more.

Both adoption and surrogacy seem like amazing experiences...that only occur for other people.


All of this is just background noise.  My daily life consists of a healthy two year old who is thriving.  A good home.  A happy marriage.  A supportive family.  An engaging workplace.  

Aidan is missing, of course.  He will always be missing.  He was a real person who had a name and a story, no matter how short.  People are generally understanding when I say I miss him.  When I think about him.  When I wish he was here. 

But now, I feel like Third baby is missing too.  A person no one ever saw or imagined.  Who has no name. No gender.  No story.  Who never was.  Maybe the hardest part is that I get the sinking feeling that if he or she never materializes, I will miss Third baby in the same way I do Aidan.

And no one will understand.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy Birthday?

So today I turned 31.  


so did my eggs.


At least I have this perfect little egg to wish me "Happy Birday Mommy!" because everyone knows two year old kisses are the best!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian peeps!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kiss it Good-bye

So this friend of mine (mentioned in this post), has one daughter who is a year older than Kaia.

We were talking the other day and her daughter is going to be sent to see (yet another) specialist at the local children's hospital.  It's probably not serious, but it's another medical specialist to be seen and another issue to be dealt with.  So she remarks to me (again), that this is now the final thing that means her and her husband won't be having another child.  She jokingly said "we aren't even finished fixing this one up yet!"

While part of me laughs and totally gets that it sucks to have yet another medical issue crop up after years of dealing with one thing after another, another little part of me (probably located somewhere near my congenital cardiac defect...right next to my dead baby) feels a little miffed.  Yes, not everyone is born perfect....sucks don't it?

Then my friend says "we are considering having [insert her husband's name here] go for a vasectomy".  


My immediate question was whether her husband is as solid on not wanting any more kids either.  Her answer was that he would have another one if she wanted one, but since she doesn't, he's fine with that.

Perhaps because I play the 'what if' game with myself all the time, I immediately began thinking of scenarios in my head.  

a) What if my friends divorced?  This happened to a friend of a friend of mine.  He wanted another.  She was done with two.  Hubby went for a vasectomy and then his wife left him...for another woman (pretty sure there aren't anymore kids in this woman's future). This guy, who is still young by anyone's standards, could remarry and have more kids, but now he's sterile.  Needless to say, he is beyond pissed.  It also happened to my cousin.  He and his wife were done at three.  Then they divorced.  He went on to meet another woman, got a vasectomy reversal (In Canada: free to go sterile, $5000 to undo it) and they had another child together.  Then, because of their ages, he got it done again.  I guess everyone has their limits when birth control becomes that big of a hassle that one no longer wants to even have to consider it anymore, but in my mind you BOTH should be REALLY REALLY sure.

b)  What if my (female) friend died?  As an example, my mom, after she had my younger brother, was told not to have anymore children due to possible risks to her health.  When I was about 6 and my brother was 3, my mom got her tubes tied.  She had two and was happy with that. Although it's more of an invasive procedure for the female to get sterilized, her reasoning was that out of the two of them, SHE was the one who couldn't have more kids, so why take that possibility away from my dad, if anything should happen to her?  In our case, this would be my decision too, since I'm the one with the heart defect.  In my opinion since my friend is the one solidly not wanting anymore kids, maybe this should be a decision (and a surgery) that she takes upon herself, and doesn't put on her husband.

c)  What if (and this of course hits close to home), their daughter died?  Their daughter's medical conditions have, so far, never been life threatening in the extreme, but what if something else is around the corner?   I worry about this all the time with Kaia, because I know the devastation of loss. The loss of an only child is not only the loss of a child, but the loss of one's parenthood. It's one of the things that weighs heavy on my mind, knowing I may end up having an only (living) child.  I know my friend worries about the possible medical complications in a second child, that they could be worse than her first, but I don't know if she's ever thought about the loss of the one she has.  I don't know if I should even bring it up because no parent ever wants to think about that.  Plus, if they really DON'T want anymore children, does the outside chance of future loss outweigh their current desire for only one child?  In my mind, death is always something to consider.  In theirs, maybe it's not.

It, of course, also stings that while Brian and I are trying to have another child, despite all the complications we've faced and could face in the future, friends of ours who are exactly our age, with exactly the same number of (living) kids (only one!), are preparing to kiss their fertility good-bye.  

I dream of the day when my family is exactly the way I want it.  It will always be minus Aidan, but I wish it didn't have to be minus Third baby too.  I would be so nice to no longer have that twinge when I pass a pregnant woman on the street or hold a snugly baby and wish it was mine.  If only I could watch Kaia and her sibling play and interact, and have a child on either side of me when I read stories at night.  It would be so nice to feel a sense of completion.  I'm afraid I'm never going to have that.

Some day (far in the future?) we might have the sterilization conversation too...but not yet...definitely not yet.

How do you know when you're done with having children?  If you're there, what made you decide?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Clomid Experience and PVCs

So yeah, not pregnant.  Not even a little bit.  Crickets chirping over hear.

Back in June, after two months in a row of my Clear Blue Easy Ovulation monitor reading "High" fertility for many days, but never registering an 'ovulation' day, I decided that I must be more fucked up in the reproductive department than I realized.  I figured if we were truly trying to make a go of conceiving Third baby, I better get my ass to the doctor stat to figure out plan B (but not ya'know the medication of the same name, as that would be counterproductive).

My doctor immediately upon hearing of my ovulation woes, decided to give me a script for three rounds of 50mg of clomid, the 'go to' medication for ovulation, stating if that didn't work she'd up it to 100mg.  Instructions: Take on days 5 to 9 of your cycle, watch out for mood swings, hot flashes and sore boobs. Come back if you're pregnant.  See ya, good luck!

Later the same week after taking the Clomid for the first time, I had my cardiology appointment, which completely scared the shit out of me, and made me question whether or not having another kid was such a good idea.  I mean, if supposedly my heart is going to need a new valve in < 10 years, is it really smart to stress it out with yet another (possibly screwed up, but hopefully not!!!) pregnancy?  Plus what if another baby compromises my health even more than a new valve could fix?  I desperately wish for a sibling for Kaia, but not at the expense of her not having a mom.  I figure moms are kind of important too.  

But, I really want another baby...I really really do...

So with all this muddling around in my brain, the time of ovulation arrived...and I started to have PVCs. PVCs for you laymen out there are basically when your heart skips a beat, or seems to pause for slightly longer than normal, and then seems to 'thunk' or contract harder than usual, and then continues beating as normal.  Sort of like a heart 'hiccup'.  They generally aren't dangerous, and happen to lots of people with normal averages hearts, but they are a bit unnerving.   I've mentioned these occurrences to my cardiologists before, and these skipped beats have been picked up on my 24 hour ECGs (Holter monitor), and nary a fuss has been made about them, so I've never really concerned myself too much.  But during this Clomid cycle, all of a sudden they started happening multiple times per MINUTE.  I go from noticing one every once in awhile (hours often days apart) to literally being able to sit there and count them....1........2......3.....4.....

It probably didn't help that I had a cold at the time, so I was ill on top of being hormonal, but HOLY SHIT it was scary as I lay there in bed feeling:
beat...beat...beat........THUNK....beat....beat...beat...beat.......THUNK.....  I hauled out my stethoscope and had Brian take a listen.  Even he thought my heart sounded weird.
The Google research I did supported my supposition that it was the Clomid causing the PVCs as others with normal hearts report having them, plus the PVCs stopped after the ovulation period was over, when I assume the meds quit working.  The entire experience scared me enough though that I haven't taken the Clomid again.

So we are back to the rock and the hard place....if I'm not ovulating regularly or strongly on my own then pregnancy is unlikely to happen without further assistance, AND I can't take Clomid, which is the only fertility medication my family doctor feels qualified to prescribe me, BUT Brian isn't too keen about returning to the reproductive endocrinologist, AND I'm freaked out enough about getting pregnant again due to my own health issues, PLUS it seems stupid and foolhardy to pay $$$$ to get pregnant with possibly (but hopefully not!!!!) disastrous consequences....

HOWEVER we really, really want another baby.....and I feel guilty that I'm unable to provide Third baby for my family.  I worry Kaia will be the only (living) grandchild on my side of the family as my brother and his girlfriend seem in no hurry to reproduce.  My parents love Kaia so much, I wish they had lots more grand kids to spoil.  I worry that Kaia will never have a sibling and this will somehow damage her for life.  My brother was the best present my parents ever gave me and I can't imagine my life without him.  I feel badly that if Brian had married someone else, he might have that 2+ kids he would like.  I'm just sad.  So tired of this being an issue. So tired of feeling like my body is failing.

I feel as though our hopes for Third baby are circling the drain.

I'm so tired of caring about this.  I wish I didn't care.

But I do.  

So much.


It's not helping that tomorrow, August 15th, is Aidan's third anniversary due date.  A day that means both nothing and everything.

He would/should/could have been 3.

I wish you love, my son, on this, your 3rd non-birthday.  Today and every day.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Right Where I Am: 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 1 day

Once, I read an article describing the experiences of people who have regained the ability to see after a lifetime of blindness.  After relating to the world without sight, depending on all of their other senses to guide them, these people found it hard to assimilate the visual sensory input.  For example, seeing an apple.  You and I would immediately know what it is, just by looking at it.  Those who were blind, would not know what the object was, until they picked it up, felt its roundness, smooth skin, smelt it's apple-y smell, or tasted it's juicy flesh.  They had no idea what an apple should look like.  They had no visual reference for anything.  It was only over time that they were able to begin to make sense of the visual world.

Over 3 years out now from Aidan's death and I feel as though I have the opposite of this problem.  I can no longer picture what my life would look like with a living Aidan in it.  Immediately after he died, I had a running timeline of what I 'should' be doing and I could 'see' it all so clearly.  

June 2010: "I should be 34 weeks pregnant, not lifting and carrying heavy boxes helping my friends move".  I could imagine my big belly, almost feel his kicks.

August 2010: "I should have a newborn to take care of, off on maternity leave, not returning to work at a new job".  It felt like a daily surprise that the room that was to be his was empty.  How could he not be here? 

December 2010: "I should have a baby to take to this family Christmas party, instead my arms are empty".  Watching my relatives coo and awe over my cousin's baby who was born in July 2010, I felt angry when the first present of the night was handed out to her, the 'youngest'.  That gift, that title, should have been Aidan's.  

April 2011: "It's a year since he was born...if he had lived I would be planning a 1st birthday party".  But instead I was on bed rest again, agonizing over the fate of baby number 2...and wait a minute, he should have been born in August and would really only be 8 months old...and I likely wouldn't be pregnant again, and thus not concerned about baby number two...

Then Kaia arrived, and the timeline of the way life 'should' have been was permanently altered, because likely she wouldn't be if he was...and how could I see anything else but her? The farther out I am from his death, the harder time I have imaging what life with him should look like. Over time I have slowly gone 'blind' to those should haves.  I've lost reference to what my life with him would have been.  Most days my life is filled with who and what is...not who or what is not.

Yet as I lay in bed at night, quiet, in the dark, I so often think before I drift off to sleep: "I miss you Aidan.  I wish you were here".

He truly never goes away.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Birthday!

My baby is 2 today!  She's wonderful, adorable, smart, funny, engaging and gregarious.  She can also be a whiny, bratty, biting, scratching, Dora-demanding, hot-mess of a toddler! 

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Kaia, "You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway".

And I'm pretty sure, despite all our faults, you'd tell Daddy and Me if you could that you "love us anyway too".

Happy 2nd Birthday to my extra special girl.

*Updated to add: Go check out last year's post about her 1st birthday party.  Holy Hannah (as my mother would say!), CHECK OUT ALL THAT HAIR!  From basically bald to flowing golden curly locks in one year).  Sweet!  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Down hearted

Sorry I haven't written in awhile.  It's not for lack of wanting to...just life always seems to get in the way.  Plus I spent the month of June reading the entire series of Game of Thrones (books 1-5), which was over 4000 pages, so I spent a good portion of the month reading.  I'm now in withdrawal...I wish the next book was coming out soon.

On to more important things.

No we aren't pregnant.

And after my cardiologist appointment this past week, I'm wondering if it's a good idea health-wise.

My heart is currently functioning well, however I do have a 'moderate' amount of aortic regurgitation which means that a portion of the blood passing through my aortic valve from my left ventricle tends to leak backwards through the valve rather than all flowing out through my aorta.  Basically my cardiologist is telling me that valve surgery is in my future.  She's 'hoping' I will get 10 more years out of the valve, but at some point it will need to be replaced in order to help preserve my heart function.  Currently this type of valve is replaced by open heart surgery, meaning you have to be put on by-pass while your heart is stopped and worked on through a giant incision through your chest.  According to my good friend Google, it has a 1-3% mortality rate (which is probably higher with Fontan patients like me).  My cardiologist is hopeful that by the time I need my valve replaced it will be done by catheter, making the procedure less risky and less invasive.  I'm so hoping too.

Hearing this is upsetting, although not ENTIRELY surprising.  I've done my reading, and from what I've read Fontan patients usually begin having heart problems as they grow older, and valve surgery is fairly common in heart patients. It is hard to begin applying those statistics to yourself though.  It's scary. If I were to get a non-tissue valve, I'll have an increased risk of clotting and will need to be on blood thinning medication indefinitely.  A big annoyance and not a pleasant prospect.

However, what was worse, was that this cardiologist started telling me about the possibility that one day I may need a heart transplant.  I know my parents were told when I was a child, that I was not eligible for a heart transplant and that the Fontan operation was my only option.  This cardiologist is telling me that things have changed in the last 25 years, and now would be considered for a heart transplant if I needed one (yippee!), however Fontan patients like myself have a 30% chance of DYING ON THE TABLE during the surgery (definitely not yippee).  If they survive post op, the outcomes are usually good...but the risks are high.  It also means living on the transplant list.  You can't travel, you're tied to a pager every day, wondering "will this be the day my heart arrives"...and there is the possibility that one won't be found and you'll die waiting.  Also, fun fact: women who have had children have a harder time being matched due to the antibodies they have made against the fetus.

A transplant also isn't a cure all...you'll be on anti-rejection medications forever (increasing your risk of infection and cancer) and transplanted hearts fail on average around 15 years, meaning you'll either die or need another one.  Only 69% of female transplant patients are alive at 5 years.

This is VERY upsetting because damn it all, I want to be an old lady. I want grey hair and wrinkles. I want to go back to school and change my career trajectory.  I want to travel with my family, or alone with Brian, and one day I might even want to retire!  I want to see my grandchildren grow (should I be lucky enough to have them).  I want a full life, with the normal expected life span.  Hearing all this stuff about my heart is making me think about my life long term.  For example, I better stay in a job that has good medical benefits, good disability benefits and life insurance, because at some point, I might (will?) need them.  So scratch working in a small medical clinic, I'll have to stay at a big hospital.  I should also definitely get on with my plans for school.  I need to move towards a career that is less physically demanding. We should also not plan to move to a smaller city. The hospital I need is here.

Those concerns are obviously all long term, and in my own benefit. In the short term, I (we) want another baby.  I want a sibling for Kaia.  Especially if there is a chance I might not be around to see her as an adult, I want her to have the comfort of a (living) sibling. It's so maddening because part of what has come with living so well with my heart defect, is my own expectation that I will pretty much be able to live a normal life, including having the number of children I want (or at least TRY to have the number of children I want).  If I let myself be scared off trying for another child, fearing that it may damage my heart, I feel it would be tantamount to letting my heart defect stop me from achieving my dreams.

It's put a lot of thoughts in my head this week.  How to I reconcile my short and long term desires? It's led me back into looking into surrogacy.  Here in Canada, surrogacy is legal, however you aren't able to directly pay for a surrogate the way you are in the States. You are however, responsible for many other costs.  Including, (but not limited to, of course), the IVF fees ($10,000+), the lawyers ($1000s), DNA testing ($1500) the expenses the surrogate will incur including travel costs, maternity clothes, extra food costs, and the possibility that she will need time off work which means you'll be paying her salary.  The website I went to listed $35,000 as a total conservative estimate.


This is all well and good, but first someone (out of the goodness of their own heart) has to offer up her uterus for 9 months. And maybe, maybe, if all goes well, you get a baby (or two?) out of the deal and the lovely woman who has helped you gets a few more stretch marks and the knowledge of a job well done.

Makes me wish my parents had tried a little harder to give me a sister (preferably one who loved me lots and liked being pregnant).  My brother is fairly useless in this case.  Thanks for nothing Mom and Dad. ;-)

Sunday, April 28, 2013


(as defined by Webster's Dictionary):
1: not reproducing: as
b : not yet or not recently pregnant c : habitually failing to fruit

 (as defined by Medicine.net): 
 Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying.

Last April when my period returned after having Kaia, I figured I wouldn't bother starting any type of birth control.  Although we didn't exactly WANT a second child at that point, I felt fairly confident due to my previous experiences of needing added progesterone to get pregnant, that it likely wouldn't happen on its own.  And hey, if it did, that might be welcome change and a sign from the universe that we should just go with it.

Turns out, I was right.  (Sometimes it sucks be right all the time).

We've been 'not trying/not avoiding' for a year now and can now officially be classified as among the 'infertile'.  Not surprising.  I have a feeling if we had never added in the progesterone with either Aidan or Kaia we would have gotten that designation the first two times around.

What pains me to admit however, is that in January we decided that we'd start actually 'trying' and started on progesterone for the second half of my cycle.  It worked the first time in both of my previous pregnancies, so I felt it was bound to at least do SOMETHING.  January I started with 100mg of Prometrium once a day starting after ovulation.  It did NOTHING.  My luteal phase was short as always and I had spotting for a number of days before my period as usual.  Okay, I figured, no biggie.  I got pregnant with Kaia using 200mg once a day.  So, we upped it to 200mg for February...and March...and April...and the spotting continues.  My luteal phase is slightly longer, but I have yet to need a pregnancy test to tell me I'm not pregnant (which I should since the progesterone should stop the uterine lining from shedding, thus cuing me to pee on a stick).  I've yet to make it past day 27 of my cycle without spotting.


My family doctor said she is willing to prescribe Clomid to help strengthen ovulation which will hopefully sort out my luteal issues, but if we need any further help than that, she'd refer me again to the fertility specialist we saw in the Fall of 2010.  That fertility specialist had the easiest time in the world helping me get knocked up.  One ultrasound for a follicle check and a prescription of Prometrium later and 'ta-da'!  They said it was almost too easy. Too bad what followed was not.

I don't know what to do.  I have a hard time admitting the level of my desire for another child to my doctor or my friends and I haven't even mentioned it to our families, because I'm so afraid that giving a voice to my wish will somehow make it harder if it never happens.  I still carry so much disappointment and sadness around both my pregnancies and Aidan's loss that I'm not sure I can really stand to add another defeat to the pile.

Sometimes I like to trick myself and think "Hey, maybe you don't REALLY want another baby. Let's just hold the phone and think back here for a moment. Remember how little sleep you got with a newborn? Remember the nervous breakdown you had over trying to breastfeed?  And the 14 months of pumping? Remember the quasi-sleep training and the hours and hours of nightly crying that preceded it? Oh, and hey...remember your water breaking in the second trimester...TWICE?  Remember the combined 27 weeks of bed rest?  Remember the lack of income?  Remember the stress and the worry and the fear?  Remember the preemies, one living and one dead?  The NICU?  Remember Dr. Eeyore?  Remember how they have ABSOLUTELY no idea why your placenta exploded once, let alone twice.  Remember?  Life is much better now that all that's behind you."  It would honestly be so much easier if, like friends of ours who have just one daughter and are happy to keep it that way, we didn't want any more children.  No more choices to make.  No more decisions to stress over.  One (living) and done would be so easy.

But, I do.  I do want another baby.  I have Kaia, who I am more grateful for every day. She lights up our lives.  And I had Aidan.  He made me a Mom.  Who even in his absence continues to teach me things and helps to make me a better person.  How special and important they both are to me.  How much I love them.  OF COURSE I want another child.  Both Brian and I do.  And one day, I bet Kaia will want a sibling.  I would love to make that happen.

I honestly feel that likely, our third child is possible.  Right now, he or she waits in the fabric of the universe, just waiting for our genetic material to combine, implant and begin to grow. According to the reproductive endocrinologist that we saw in 2010, the likelihood of us being able to conceive is high based on the fact that we have before, it will just take the right combination of patience, medical technology and genetic material.  I know this isn't the case for EVERYONE, but since I'm still fairly 'young', the possibility is on the higher side.  That the 'likelihood' ends at the two pink lines is what gets me.  It makes me quake in fear that there are no guarantees beyond that.

I'm just not sure I have the strength to really GO for it based on our pregnancy history.  I'm not sure I want to pour time, money, energy and hope into a pregnancy that would take more than a few pills and a bottle of wine to make happen.  If it happened on it's own, naturally and easily with little or no outside help...and things went badly again, it would be awful, and heart breaking and soul crushing. If it all went badly again and we had spent months (years?) going to doctor's appointments, multiple invasive tests, failed procedures and PAID for all of it to happen, well that's just like rubbing salt in the wound.  Maybe our current infertility is the universe's way of telling us it's just not meant to happen, and we'd be better off not tempting it again. 

I just all makes me so sad.  I never blamed any of my own actions for Aidan's death or for either of the early pPROMs.  But I have such anger and disappointment when it comes to my body.  How could it fail me so badly, not once but TWICE?  How could things go so wrong?  I don't even really feel that I had much to do with Kaia's positive outcome.  It's like she lived in spite of my body's failings.  The bed rest, the gallons of water, the good food, good hygiene, all the supplements, the love and hope I clung to were only my way of attempting to counteract the absolute failure of my uterus.  That Kaia lived is only due to her own hardiness and because biology didn't screw up *quite* enough to cause her death.  Kaia lived because she, and we, got extremely lucky.  From my earliest memory my body has been deemed 'less' because of my heart defect, which my pregnancy history only seems to confirm.

The idea that I would dream of chancing all that again; that I would dare to even contemplate it in the face of my body's obvious unwillingness to cooperate smacks of hubris.  We got lucky once, what makes me think I deserve that again?  

On the other hand, I feel like I am failing that third baby of mine if I don't try. If I choose comfort, safety and physical ease over the fear of loss or hardship, what kind of mother am I?  I imagine third baby out there, just waiting for us to make him or her a reality, but unfortunately third baby brings no guarantees about how long he or she plans to stay, or how healthy he or she plans to be, or how mentally or physically healthy he or she will leave me.  There are never any guarantees when it comes to children, but I feel somehow, like we have less of a guarantee than most.  We have more of a reason than others to believe it will all go badly, more of a reason to fear the worst.  Third baby, you aren't even real and I already love you, want you, wish you were here...but I don't know if I can risk it again.

The hardest thing for me maybe, is that I know I can live without third baby.  Life will still be good.  It will still have meaning.  Because I have Kaia, I can go on.  I didn't feel that way before or after Aidan.  The desire to have a living child was so intense, so overwhelming, it was all I could think of.  I could not imagine my life without at least one living child.  Even while I stared at the ceiling on bed rest with Kaia, swearing that I would not put myself through this again, I knew I wouldn't quit in my desire to have a family. I was prepared to do anything, pay anything, risk anything.  

But I'm not anymore.  For me, primary infertility and secondary infertility are two very different things.  As much as I love third baby, he or she does not take precedence over my current child and my current life.  I have other dreams now, which I am prepared to put on hold, or delay, but not give up on, to have another baby in my life.

Which in the end, for me, is the saddest thing of all.  I know if third baby were to make it here, alive and well (which sometimes feels as impossible as a planned mission to Mars), third baby would be as loved and as cherished and as needed as Aidan or Kaia.  He or she would be cease to be abstract and would become real.

And, oh how I want him or her to be real.  

I'm just not sure I have it in me to try.

I'm sorry third baby.  Mommy's so sorry.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Imagining Three

"Aidan do you know what today is?"

"It's my birthday Mommy!"

"Yes, you're right it is my big boy!  Aidan, how old are you today?"

"I'm three!"

"Yes you are!  What are we going to do today for your birthday?"

"Go to the zoo!  I love the zoo!"

"Are we going to see the lions and tigers and gorillas and turtles?"

"Yes, and the Orange-tans too!"

"Orange-tans?  Oh right, yes, the O-RANG-U-tans, yes we can see the Orangutans too. Aidan, this is a very special day.  Three years ago you were born and you were so small.  See this picture here?  Yes, that's you.  Look at how tiny you were.  Tiny tiny feet, tiny tiny hands...tiny, tiny everything".

"I'm not tiny, tiny anymore....I'm a BIG boy, now!"

"That's true.  You are a big boy, now.  You're a big brother now too.  But three years ago, you were so, so small that you had to live in a warm plastic box for a long, long time until you were bigger and stronger.  You had tubes and wires going every which way.  Yes, see this picture?  Mommy would sit beside you and hold your little hand in mine and put my hand over your head to keep you calm and feeling safe".

"Why, Mommy?"

"Because you were so small Mommy couldn't always hold you. We had to wait a long time for you to get big and strong so you could come home.  Your doctors and your nurses and your RTs said they have never seen such a remarkable boy!  You did so well and surprised just about everyone!  Even me!"

"Even YOU?"

"Yes my baby boy.  It took you awhile, but you grew so well and got so strong and healthy, I could hardly believe it.  You barely even look like that tiny baby anymore.  Except for your feet and your nose, those look just the same.  Just like your Daddy's"

"Some day, I'm going to be as big as Daddy and drive the car, just like him!"

"That's right, you will. You're a big boy already who can run and jump and count to 10 and say his A, B, Cs!"

"A, B, C, D, E, F, G..."

"Yes Aidan, that's very good.  Okay, it's time to get your shoes on...time to go to the zoo!"


"Wait, Mommy needs a hug and a kiss from the birthday boy!"

"Love you Mommy."

"Love you too, Aidan."


Forever and Always my baby boy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Just another day at the office

He has creamy pink skin.  Rosebud lips. Ten tiny toes, ten tiny fingers. A covering of peach-fuzz hair on his head. He is loved.  His room is waiting at home for him.  He is 7 and a half pounds of glorious perfection.  

Except for the brain damage.

She's standing at her son's beside gazing down at him. She is sore and slow and tired, with her swollen post-partum belly covered in sweats.  Her husband stands stoic beside her.  They don't know what went wrong.  He was fine, fine, fine on ultrasound just days ago. They have just finished a conversation with the nurse practitioner covering her son's care that day.  It's not good, but it's not the WORST either.  He's got a chance. We'll have to see how he does once we finish the cooling protocol and do an MRI.  Then the real waiting begins. It might be years before we know what he's going to be like.  Able?  Disable? Walking?  Talking?  Deaf?  Blind?  Who knows.  We left our crystal ball at home today.

She's standing at her son's beside gazing down at him.  He is still.  So still.  He has tubes and wires coming out of every which way.  The amount of technology surrounding his bedside looks like it could control a missile and is equally formidable to anyone who doesn't know it's purpose. His nurse (my colleague), offers his mom the chance to do his bath.  You know, something totally normal, if she didn't have to work around the breathing tube, the umbilical lines and the urinary catheter.

His mom begins to cry.  As tears roll down her cheeks she wrings her hands and manages to choke out, "I'm afraid I'm going to hurt him!"

I'm going about my day, trying to mind my own business while charting on my patient, but standing 3 feet from her, I can't help but hear everything she says.  My dead baby mother's heart responds so keenly, as I know what she is REALLY saying.

I'm afraid I already hurt him.  I'm afraid I've killed him, or damaged him beyond repair.  He's broken and it's all my fault.

As a nurse I could tell her "it's not your fault" and really mean it.  She did nothing wrong.  It was an accident. Nobody meant for this to happen.  Not the midwife, not the pediatrician, not the doctors, not the nurses, not her husband, not the baby and certainly not his mother.  But I know, she will blame herself...we always do.

A few days later he is breathing on his own.  Learning to eat from a bottle.  He will have challenges, but he will go home.  His mom is holding him and she looks a little better.  At least she smiles back at me.

He is one of the lucky ones.

Another day, I'm over at the fridge.  Searching around for the containers holding my patient's breast milk so that I can draw it up into tiny syringes to push down the tube in his nose into his stomach where it will hopefully stay to be digested and not end up back on my shoes.

I look over into the room next door.  The lights are dim, even though it's the middle of the day.  The staff doctor is speaking quietly to a couple sitting in matching rocking chairs by their son's bed side.  They are absolutely still.  I can tell just by their posture, and the blank looks on their faces that it's not good.  His nurse leans over to me and whispers, "she's talking to them about withdrawing fluids..."  They have already been told their son is beyond hope.  Unlike other organs which can recover from a lack of oxygen, the brain cannot.  His death certificate will read asphyxia.  Withdrawing fluids will help to not prolong things.

Withdrawal of fluids is completely appropriate in this case.  It is only offered in situations for which nothing can be done, and the family has agreed to a DNR.  But as I stand there watching that couple hear a doctor speak so calmly and plainly about hastening their son's death, I remember what it's like to get that news.  Nothing can be done.  No hope.  Beyond saving.  Might as well end it now.  It hurts.  Hurts like a gut wound.  You feel your stomach dropping out beneath you.  You feel dizzy and sweaty, like if you could only just block your ears, your mind, your heart, maybe all this awfulness will just go away and leave you and your family alone.  But it won't and it doesn't.

I look at the parents.  They are so completely, totally ordinary.  A month ago she was probably at her grocery store, or in the mall, or at church or at work, getting belly pats from well meaning old ladies chirping "oh, looks like it's any day now!"  She likely smiled and then rolled her eyes as they walked away.  He probably assembled the crib and attended birthing classes feeling like a fish out of water.  Worried about being a good enough dad, and maybe even rubbed her feet after a long day.

A month from now she will be back at that grocery store, slowly walking down the aisles.  Avoiding the one with diapers and wipes and formula, because even though she was going to cloth diaper and breast feed, it's all just too big of a reminder.  He will be at work, shooting the shit with the guys...but breaking a bit inside when colleagues mention their kids.  He'll quickly look away and busy himself with something else.  This year won't be what they thought it would.  No camping trips with an infant.  No holiday parties with the 'grandparents'.  Just them, alone again in an empty house.  I can see it all because I've lived it, and now they will too.  I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.


How is it that so many babies traversing the,what? Maybe 10 cm total?, through the cervix and down the birth canal go from 'fine' in one spot, to 'dead, or dying' and the end?  It seems completely ludicrous that the only 10 cm you absolutely HAVE to cross in your life is the most dangerous of all.  Good job mother nature.  You can be such a cruel bitch.


Oh look at that, it's 7 o'clock.  Quitting time.  Yep, just another day at the office.  

Should have been a librarian.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Ides of March

Where have I been lately?  Nowhere special.  I'm at a low energy point, probably due to the continuing dreariness of winter.  I hate winter.  I'm sick of the cold.  I'm bored with my winter wardrobe. I'm boycotting the outdoors until the sun shines and I can see the grass. I haven't felt like exercising and haven't felt like getting out much.  Instead I've been reading...A LOT.  I discovered Goodreads soon after Christmas and OHMYGOD, it's like I've found my tribe.  Hello people who love books more than movies, more than social interaction, more than food! I've read 30+ books over the last couple of months and I go nowhere without my Kindle.  Sometimes during the day when I'm home with Kaia, I'll follow her around, Kindle in hand, waiting until she gets distracted playing on her own for 3 minutes and in that time I'll try to read a few more pages.  I know, I'm a book junkie. "What's that Kaia? Sorry baby...mommy missed that totally awesome amazing thing you just did because I was reading."  Mother of the year award over here for sure.


So how is Kaia, you ask?

She's walking!!!  (Take that Breus mole, pPROM, prematurity and hip dysplasia!!!)

She finally started to walk at the beginning of February just before she was 19 months actual (17 months corrected).  Just as suspected she would, she did it first at Grandma's house while Brian and I weren't there.  Kaia's stubborn. VERY stubborn, especially with us. Any time we would try to encourage (or coax, trick, or bribe) her into walking, she would freeze up, flail around on the floor and cry, so I knew it was going to take someone who she's generally more agreeable with (such as the grandparents) to get her walking.  That first day she took about 6 steps total unassisted and since then she's been hanging on to things less and less, and becoming more and more adventurous.  She still walks like she's either a zombie, or very drunk, but she can bend down to pick something up without falling and has walked a bit outside while wearing her winter boots.  Her orthopedic surgeon who we visited last week was happy with her hip development (looks good on x-ray!) and pleased to see she was walking, so if he's happy, I'm happy.  It often amazes me when I'm distracted and see her out of the corner of my eye and think "who is that?  Oh wait, that's Kaia WALKING!" It's awesome to see her become a bit more independent.

What else?

She's got a few more words, but not as many as I thought she would by now. According to her pediatrician she is suppose to have 15-20 words at 18 months which is about where she's at (unless you count animal noises as words, then she's got double that).  However, she still grunts, moans and whines a lot and points to whatever it is she wants.  She understands a ton, and can point to pictures in books of things I didn't know she knew, but she doesn't like to use her words as often.  I'm finding this kind of baffling.  I talk to her ALL THE TIME.  I repeat things a million times a day. I pause when I'm speaking in order for her to answer.  I'm doing all the things you're suppose to in order to get your kid to talk, and we're still stuck on whining more than I would like.  I'm not concerned, per say...just a bit frustrated because I would love to know what she is thinking and you can only tell so much by "uh uh UH!!!".  It's also hard not to compare your kid to others.  According to my mother, I was talking full sentences by the time I was 18 months, and one of my friend's kids is practically a savant when it came to acquiring language (she was picking out letters correctly by the time she was 17 months), so the fact that Kaia's yet to (understandably) string two words together feels like we're behind.

In order to have a record somewhere (and where else is the best place but posted publicly on the internet?), here are the words she's (somewhat) mastered:

-Up (this is far and away her clearest word, usually uttered standing at my feet with her arms stretched)
-No (always said in a sing-song voice "no-no-no" while shaking her finger)
-Lynx (our cat, but it comes out -ynx)
-Please (pees!!!!)
-Uh-oh (usually said when she purposely drops something off her highchair tray)
-Shoe and Boots (both of these I would only be able to make out if she had her shoe or boots in her hands as they are very vowel sounding "ooe" and "oooots".  This goes for "Snow" too...'noooowww').
-Tickle (always repeated "tickle-tickle-tickle" while she tries to tickle our arms or under our chin).
-Various animal noises including howling "oooooo" for a wolf. 

I'm always surprised she doesn't have a word for her bottle and/or sippy-cup (there is much pointing and whining and crying if she's thirsty).  Nor does she ever ASK for milk or water. Don't kids usually have a word for that ('wawa' anyone?)  A friend of mine's daughter is 3 and still uses her baby word for 'milk' which was 'white'.  I'm not sure how much clearer I can emphasis the words "WA-TER" and "Mmmm-ILK".  We'll keep trying though.

She does have a couple of "Kaia-isms" which aren't exactly words but I thought I'd record them here because damn are they ever cute.  The first is 'duba-duba-duba'.  This was first uttered while she had her fingers together and we finally realized she wanted us to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider".  Then somehow this same 'word' transformed into meaning "open" when she stood at the baby gate that prevents her from falling down the stairs.  No idea how she made that leap.  It's weird, but we understand what she means now, so I suppose it works.  For 'yes' she kind of makes an 'uh-huh' noise but basically uses her whole body to agree. She kind of nods her head and bounces her torso and looks at you expectantly.  You really know she means "YES!!! ABSOLUTELY!!!".  I also LOVE how she says "I don't know". She throws her arms out to the sides in a palms up gesture and says "I don't know" in the same way Scooby-doo would say it where it basically sounds like a long cascading vowel sound with a "?" at the end.  It's the cutest thing ever.  Must remember to get this one on tape.

Kaia loves things that jingle (she's got ears like a bat for keys hidden in pockets or purses), things with buttons (picks up anything that remotely resembles a phone and says "Hi").  She can throw the craziest tantrums over nothing which include red face, tears and ear piercing screaming, but her mushy fishy lipped kisses totally melt your heart.  She loves animals, and screams with joy while standing at the window watching the dogs run around in the park behind our house.  Kaia eats fairly well, and can use a fork, but often chooses not to since that would ruin the tactile experience of eating.  She has definite food likes and dislikes and will NOT be talked into eating anything she's not completely sure of (and will pull away and give you the "are you CRAZY?" look like you've just offered her booger or dirt to eat when it's a piece of potato). She also likes to share food and will gladly feed you a piece of whatever she's eating, but will throw anything on the floor she doesn't want (crusts of bread are a current 'will not eat'). She charms all the adults in her life, including her grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitter. She gets called "good" by them a lot, which is lovely to hear about your kid, but I'm pretty sure it means she saves all her "not so good" moments for Brian and I.  I suppose this isn't unexpected, and in my better moments I try to take it as a compliment.  We all save our inner most selves (good and bad) for the people we trust the most, and this is Kaia's way of saying "I trust you to still love me and look after me, even when I'm not on my best behaviour".  Thanks kid, I love you too.

When I really look at it objectively, Kaia pretty much falls into the category of 'average toddler'.  She's average weight (24 lbs) , average height (81 cm) with an average sized head (47cm) for her corrected age of 18 months as measured today at the pediatricians.  She fits into 18-24 month clothing.  She sleeps 12 hours at night with a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon.  She's hitting her milestones (roughly) on average, and was really only held back physically because of her cast. I have to remind myself at times that it's silly to get hung up over comparing the exact moment when she could sit up, crawl, walk and talk with others because less than two years ago I feared she wouldn't survive.  Or if she did, that she would be plagued with handicaps resulting from her gestational and birth circumstances.  The fact that she's so completely AVERAGE is a miracle in itself.  

You don't often hear parents brag about it but here it is: Whoo hoo!  My kid is AVERAGE!!! Hurray!!!!


Two women at work who had babies within weeks of when I had Kaia (but ya know, full term and without all the drama), have recently just had their second.  Full term and healthy.  The one who had a boy first, had a girl and vice versa for the other.  Two kids each.  One boy, one girl.  Ta da!  Perfect family. My sister-in-law is approaching twenty weeks as we speak, and when we found out about the pregnancy last month they were humming and hawing over whether to find out the sex this time at their 20 week scan (they didn't last time).  I hope it's a girl for Kaia's sake since then at least if she never gets a (living) sibling she'll have one boy and one girl cousin.  On the other hand it will be another family who has what I could have had.

Do other people wonder about this who've had an opposite gendered living child after the dead one?  I think about it sometimes. What would it be like to have a boy?  Growing up I honestly imagined myself having a girl, and I'm glad that one dream has been fulfilled...but when Aidan was born, I got attached to the idea of a little boy running around my house.  I was so happy when Kaia was born alive that it didn't even occur to me to be concerned about what gender she was.  But, I confess, in my dreams of having another child it's generally a little boy.  I would be happy for a healthy baby and a normal pregnancy either way, but a boy would somehow restore the mom-son relationship that I lost when Aidan died.


I've missed him more lately.  Some situations at work have been sad reminders, and one of the books I was reading ('love Anthony' by Lisa Genova) I had to put down for awhile because it's about a woman grieving a dead son.  It was just too overwhelming. 

Grieving his loss has become such a part of who I am that sometimes it catches me off guard at how sad I can still be, and how much some things still affect me.  I wonder if that will subside in time too?

I miss you Aidan.  I wish you were here, always.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lost In the Fire

When I was 12 years old I use to check out books about pregnancy from the library, just because I found the subject fascinating.  I'd hit puberty and I found it amazing to think that my body was developing into something that could grow another human. It seemed almost unreal.

My best subject in University was embryology.  An entire course on the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.  It was detailed, with intricate drawings and charts. We started off with the sperm and the egg, and by the end of the course we were into embryonic hearts, brains, intestinal tracts and thyroids.  All of that is formed by the time you head for your 12 week ultrasound.  I got a 96% in the course.

When I dreamed of going to medical school I wanted to go into Neonatology, and when that didn't happen I headed to nursing school with only one desire: to work in the NICU.  The care those fragile newborns needed was fascinating and so high tech and complex for such small patients.  I wanted my career to revolve around babies.  There was nowhere else I even considered working. 


It seems almost farcical that someone like me who has loved the idea of pregnancy and babies since before I can even remember, now finds the whole subject kind of depressing and sad.  I own my pregnancies, and I'm not ashamed of them, and it doesn't bother me to talk about them, or about Aidan...but they weren't happy times.  They weren't joyful or amazing or full of excitement.  I remember them as some of the most stressful, saddest and depressing times of my life.  It continues to amaze me that the wonderful being that is Kaia even came from those disastrous circumstances.  I look at her and marvel sometimes that she's just so normal, so herself.  She has none of the taint that was her pregnancy.  She is goodness and happiness and light.  That Acorn, the baby I worried for and cried so much for is actually the same person who toddles around our house, exasperating us by throwing her food on the floor, whines to be picked up to look out the window, and (on a good day!) falls asleep in my arms at nap time...seems almost unreal.  She's so alive...how could I ever have worried otherwise?

But I did  Oh I did.

One of the hardest parts about being back at work, is the constant surroundings of co-workers who are pregnant.  On my unit I work with 150+ women, most of child bearing age.  At any one time a dozen or more are off, going off, or coming back from maternity leave.  I can't go a day without bumping into a baby bump or hearing about so and so's ultrasound or baby shower, or other equally normal, happy pregnancy details.  I have very little to share and feel very "other" when these conversations come up.  Nobody else can relate to pPROM before viability.  Nobody knows what never ending weeks of bed rest is like.  Nobody gets what it's like to hold your dead child in your arms and live in fear for the life of the next. In truth, I have way more in common with my patient's parents than I do with my co-workers.  I wish I had happy stories to share, but my happy story starts months after the second pregnancy ended, when the baby finally came home, relatively unscathed.

So maybe it's no wonder that today when we found out at my nephew's 1st birthday party that my sister-in-law is 16 weeks pregnant with her second, I had to force myself to smile.  Truly, I'm glad for them, I'm happy they are happy and I'm excited to meet my future niece or nephew...but it just brings up so much sadness for me.  Brian and I talked about it on the way home, and we both feel it.  That kick to the gut that is the happy announcement.  The healthy pregnancy.  The anticipated delivery.  The plans for a living, breathing child.  We never had any of that.  WILL never have any of it, because when your first dies and you have a shit track record in the pregnancy department, well you just don't DO happy and excited anymore.  You do "cautious" and "anxious".  At your happiest you might do "pleased". And at your worst?  You might be left with "Not unexpected".   

"Things We Lost in the Fire" was the title of a movie released a couple years back, but I feel it could perfectly describe my feelings towards pregnancy now.  Sure it can produce wonderful, fantastic results (of which Kaia is but one example)...but it will never hold the same joy for me again.  Pregnancy lost all it's magic, all it's innocence and joy.  It's a source of jealousy and depression and anxiety and sadness.  It didn't work right for us.  It wasn't easy or carefree.  My son died and my daughter just barely escaped.  

Pregnancy, while a source of wonder and excitement for others, tastes like ash in my mouth.

How do you experience pregnancy now, both your own or others?  Does it still hold any joy or wonder?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Toddler Girl

Kaia you are 18 months old today!  As of tomorrow you are closer to age 2 than you are to age 1, which feels monumental somehow.

At 18 months old (16 months corrected...I still like adding that in because it makes you seem younger and still more like my baby), you are getting a pretty definite personality.

Things you love:
-books. Today you didn't want to let go of "Goodnight Moon", even during breakfast.  Unfortunately you were eating another favourite: blackberries.  You proceeded to get blackberry bits all over the edges of the book.  So you now have a blackberry stained copy of Goodnight Moon. Whoops.

 -walking with your "push".  You still can't walk on your own yet, but can motor really well with your push toy.  You steer it around the furniture and if the edge gets caught on something you ram the handle over and over and over until you can maneuver your push around the obstacle and continue on your way.  It makes me a little nervous for when you get your license.

- phones! You love our cell phones.  Like seriously LOVE them.  I think you'd marry one right now if you could.  You even know that Daddy keeps his in his pants pocket and have 'Artful Dodger-ed' it on occasion. You love the lights and the noise and pushing the buttons.  I know you aren't unique in this regard as it seems to be a common love among the toddler set (to the point where some parents buy their kids their own devices...no you can't have one).  Still...it's cute to watch you get all excited when the phone comes out.  If I have to check a message when you are around I have to do it out of your line of sight or you'll come crawling over to see what I'm looking at.

Notice the blue glow on her face, and the fact that she is holding still enough for me to take the photo.

- the cat.  Every morning when I open your door you are standing in your bed and, after smiling at me, proceed to look out the door for our cat Lynx.  You've learned from your babysitter how to 'call' animals by making 'kissy' noises while making a 'snapping' motion with your fingers.  It's so cute, even if Lynx never responds.
This is a crummy picture, but getting the two of them in the frame at the same time is nearly impossible.

 -your stuffed animals.  Kaia, so far, you aren't a doll person. You got two dolls for Christmas and have little use for either of them.  You do however, LOVE your stuffed animals. You will feed them with a toy baby bottle, and like to cuddle them one second, then throw them in the air the next.  You LOVE it when Daddy or I make them talk, walk, or hop.  You think it's the funniest thing ever and will get your crazy laugh going.

This is Molly, given to you on your birthday from Grami and Poppi with Aidan in mind.  They felt Aidan would like his little sister to have such a cute monkey. You couldn't agree more. Hannah Hoppy, who is in the picture of you reading a book above, is another favourite.

-back rubs, face rubs, ear rubs, head rubs.  I have no photos of this since usually my hands are occupied doing the rubbing before bed, but you love having your head rubbed, your eyebrows and bridge of your nose massaged, your ear lobes tickled, or your back patted while you lay on your stomach in bed.  I know when you're ready to let me soothe you this way at nap or at night that you are tired and ready for sleep.

-baths.  I also don't have photos of this (well I do, but I'm not posting naked baby photos on the internet).  You love splashing in the bath, playing with your bath toys, and getting a swing in the towel on your way back to your room when bath is over.  Nothing is cuter than a freshly washed baby....sorry...toddler.

Freshly washed toddler hair...so wispy.

Of course, when you begin to be old to enough to love certain things, you also become old enough to HATE certain things.  And you aren't afraid to let people know it.

Things you hate:

-When we try to 'help' you walk on your own by attempting to have you let go of our finger.  When this happens you immediately bend and put your hands on the floor. You just aren't ready to take steps unassisted.  You're barely holding on to us when walking, to the point it sometimes feels like you're carrying our finger, but you still occasionally need that balancing aid.  I'm betting it's partly your weaker left hip slowing you down, but it's also mental at this point. You DO NOT like falling and will CRY something awful at even the smallest bump, so you've just decided you will walk only when you are good and balanced and ready and unlikely to fall.  I know it won't be, but sometimes it feels like it could be eons at this rate.

-Closed baby gates.  You HATE when the baby gate is closed that stops you from falling down the stairs (sorry...I know, I should just let you play at the top of the stairs.  It really is the only truly fun square footage in the whole house).

-Having ANYTHING taken away (especially a phone!!) or being made to go when you want to sit, or sit when you want to go.  I can tell this by the whining...and the crying...and the screaming.  I think I jinxed it in a past post when I bragged how you were such a good baby and had never thrown a tantrum in public.  HAHAHAHAHA. Rookie mistake. Toddler Kaia is a whole new ball game. Christmas shopping with you this year wasn't candy canes and gum drops, let me tell you.  Even when I tried to bribe you with said delicious treats. I'm sure in retrospect I'll look back on this behaviour and fondly sigh "oh where does the time go"...wait, no I won't.  EVER.

The camera has a SCREEN on it, with BUTTONS...and guess who KNOWS IT!!!!

Kaia, despite your sometimes challenging ways, I love you so much and am SO happy to be your Mommy.  

You were worth it baby toddler girl.