Friday, July 30, 2004

successfully got him down for an early nap because the (&^%$$** alarm system is being tested again at 2.30. he's just woken up at 2.10 and instead of picking him up, I've thrown a few toys in his cot for the first time so I can finish my email etc. he is blissfully unaware of the deception, so surprised is he by the teddy/book/blocks landing in the cot. Bad Mum-Mum! Bad!

(thinks: this is really no different from bringing him out here. just that now he's mobile and wouldn't stay where I put him. )

mothering challenge #3876 - not laughing.

I put him down for his second nap this morning (at 9.30 am! it was a 5 am start). a few minutes later I went to check and he was standing in his cot, hanging onto the bars, looking at me and grinning.

it was funny. but could I show that? no, because by the tenth time, it wouldn't be funny at all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

my friend lost her baby. she told me in an email - well, she's in another country and so am I, so to speak. it was a saga of bleeding, empty scans, inability to reach "civilisation" and a d&c in effectively a jumped-up third world hospital. she was 9 weeks with her second child. I rang her. she says she's OK, but also that she now realises how much she took fertility for granted.

last night after I got her mail I thought about it, and there's only one close friend or female relation I have who hasn't had a problem, from placenta praevia to pcos, a couple of ivfs, miscarriages. ectopics. no, it's not something you can ever take for granted.

and once, if ever, you have them, of course, it's a new battle, one in which I am starting to hate authors who casually throw in detailed deaths/injuries of children that I can never afterwards expunge from my mind.

my poor friend. she'll be OK. and I truly believe what I told her, that it was probably one of those "statisitical" mcs, a genetic bad throw of the dice. but she was having a baby, and now she's not.

two days ago, A. turned the TV on for the first time. sure, he didn't mean to. but still pretty advanced for an 8-month-old, yes?

Monday, July 26, 2004

I'm wondering if what we're doing is really right.

at least every second night he's sleeping through 11-6 am. the other nights he wakes and sooks at least once, sometimes twice. but instead of happily settling down, he's crying for 15 minutes and upwards every night now, and having more trouble settling during the day. I thought it would only be a few days of letting him cry. I don't want to spend months ignoring his misery. it's not right.

making it more difficult is the fact he's started moving around in the cot - lying on his face, sitting up - yesterday afternoon he either sat or stood and fell. the cry was so different I was straight in there, and such "inconsistencies" are unavoidable.

the quality of my sleep deprivation is changing; I am getting some decent four and six hour stretches and on the good nights I only wake up when I would anyway, for the toilet and so on - but as I can't get to sleep until after the rollover, the total hours have actually declined.

his cot movements are quite funny in a way. he reminds me most of the Aibo when it's knocked over. the little arms shoot out and find purchase on the mattress, he pushes up and twists and twists until he gets a hip on the ground, then he sits up and looks around like a gopher.

(And looking at that random Aibo site linked above, I find this: "Like any living being, AIBO learns how to get what it wants. Occasionally, AIBO will wave its legs around vigorously or show signs of anger if it does not receive the kind of attention it requests from you.")

My baby is a robot!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

if "mum-mum" counts as talking, he's talking.

I've been saying mum-mum to him often, and this last day or two he's started saying it when I'm putting him to bed, or he's anxious (like just as we're setting up his meal). so it's something he's using when he feels a little worried - which I guess means he wants me at those times. I don't think he actually knows I'm "mum-mum", but that he's started to associate that sound with my comfort.

I do say "daddy" to him a lot, and "milkies", but I think those will take longer - as will "all gone" and, probably too soon, "no".

it takes so long, this growing up thing. they develop so much mobility/ability to cause damage to themselves so long before they have the sense to recognise danger. he fell onto the corner of the coffee table yesterday and there was actual blood in his mouth - a reminder to me that yes, I do have to shadow his every move.

I miss Melbourne. dh says it may take until February to finish his work here. I am seriously thinking of staying home after Christmas. by then he'll be toddling and there are so many things I want to do with him while I'm still off work that I can't here - take him for bike rides, show him the market, see all my friends, go to the zoo, on and on. however nice, this is still a small apt in a big, polluted city. I don't feel I can cook the right foods for him here, I'm worried about the pollution, I don't want to do yet another return trip to Hong Kong for January/February. I've committed to this six months, but that will be more than enough. I know things will get better as I develop more friends, but all my trips out to playgroups, the library etc feel more desperate than enjoyable. we went to the playground this morning and there was a seven-month-old - but I couldn't communicate with its mother and it was so Hong Kong summer hot that we only stayed 15 minutes. I want cool, green Melbourne, the parks and gardens, the open fresh air. I like Hong Kong. but I love Melbourne.

getupgrrl is setting records for numbers of comments on a single post. someone give that woman a baby. now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

there's a thread on my bulletin board that talks about anger, envy etc at women who have natural pregnancies. this is from IVF mothers. and I realise just how easy I had it; A wasn't premature, it only took a few months and I have a good shot at another. sometimes I get wistful that I lost 18 months in the process, but I keep thinking how glad I am to have *this* baby, so how can I regret what happened? yes, sometimes I wonder at the offhandness of "accidentals" and how they laugh about it, as if they were children playing with fire. but how can I envy them? I am so lucky.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

only a draft. it may never happen. but it was on my mind.

Dear (potential) child.

If you are reading this, you have known, maybe from birth, maybe for one day only, that you are the result of an embryo donation.

This means a lot of things. It means that your parents wanted you very much. I don't know who they are, or why they chose embryo donation. It most likely means that they had been waiting for you a long time before they got you.

You may have brothers or sisters. They may be biological siblings or not. There may be other people out there who were also "donor babies" who are your biological siblings.

You may want to know about your biological relatives.

We are now, in ..., aged ... and .... . We have two children. The first, a boy, was born in November 2003 after IVF treatment. The second ,....

After they were born there were ... embryos still stored at.... Many people decide not to try to achieve pregnancy with all their embryos; some allow them to stop dividing in their storage tubes, others allow them to be used for important medical research.

We looked at our children and decided we wanted to give some other people a chance to have babies too. We love them and, perhaps with some vanity, think they're gorgeous and smart, and that perhaps from those stored embryos someone else could get wonderful kids too. If you're reading this, we're sure they did.

There were many, many issues we worked through before coming to our decision. The most important ones were around you and our children; what you would think of your origins, of the existence of biological siblings who weren't part of your family. In the end, we couldn't imagine how it would really affect you. And we took a risk that our children's lives would not be damaged in any way. We chose to donate believing that life is, in the end, a good thing and that you wouldn't be angry with us, or your parents, that you would understand that you were loved even before you were born, and that technicalities of origins don't matter as much as the hard loving work of parenting.

You may wish to contact us. We will be ready to talk to you, by letter, email or phone, in person if you wish, and to tell you whatever you need to know. If you choose not to, we are happy with that too - as long as you are happy. If sometime in the future you need to know more, even if we're not around any more, there will be more letters for you telling you about medical issues, our history, our children and so on, from which you can choose to find out as much or as little as you need.

Monday, July 19, 2004

sleep through count = 3. I think I'm already starting to expect it. going to sleep at 11pm still sucks, though, and I keep having morning naps from 8-9 that leave me woozy. still, three nights is three nights.

the toy library was, well, OK. I've been looking forward all week to going there, but there were very few babies A's age and it took a while to get him interacting with them. but I'll be back next week. that and the hospital playgroup are all I have really. how I miss my mothers' group.

tomorrow he has his first daylight-hours babysitter. given his current nap pattern it will only be for 3 hours, max, but it will still feel weird.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

I was going to add this at the end of the last post, but it deserves its own dateline: even though he is still screaming mightily at bedtime and sometimes around 10pm, for TWO NIGHTS he has slept from 10.45 (after a feed) to 7.45. that's eight hours. I do wake in that time, but I always have. I'll need a straight week of this to really believe it. but it seems that after all the controlled crying, patting, routines etc, what finally worked was the cruel, horrid reality that no one was going to come and pander to him five times a night any more.

please let it be real. it'll only take six months of "sleeping through" for eight hours and numerous early morning/afternoon catchup naps for me to get back to normal - if you ever really do with kids. but already I feel less psychotic.

yerk. oh how I missed my period: the pmt, the bloating, the headaches.

we're developing a good routine now: get out of the house in the morning while the housekeeper spends about an hour washing a few dishes, making one bed, folding towels and vacuuming 1000sq m. we either go shopping at the market nearby, or - now that I've found my good mothers' group - we'll go to that or visiting.

then home time between about 12-4, for lunch, naps, Mummy's Internet time and another feed, then out into Hong Kong for admiration of the baby, more shopping, maybe a late afternoon nap, maybe not.

still, it is not as nice as home. so I am going to Melbourne, alone, with the baby (this is not a contradictory statement) in late August just after the in-laws do their visit (actually before they go, but I couldn't shift it by two weeks for them). there I will have a frantic round of visits, drs, dentists etc. if we were here for years I'd get all those locally. but it just doesn't seem worth the effort. and I miss my friends, my dog, my friends' kids, my Mum.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

yet again,getupgrll shows me the light. and I'd like to apologise, mentally. to the small mean thought I had about yesterdays mom-of-twins giving her babies Cheerios. whatever the hell Cheerios are, anyway.

that girl rocks. getup, I mean, not the twin mom. she's coping. and speaking of infertility, there was an adopted chinese girl, 3 months, at today's hospital playgroup. and we all went "aaah". and later I thought: that could have been me. that might still be me. and: somewhere there is a woman with a three-month postpartum body and no baby. and I wondered what happens if they abort/give away female babies, hoping for a boy, and then don't conceive again? and if it's true, as I've read on the Web, that the one-child policy may still be over?

all of which is a rambling start to noting that the hospital playgroup was excellent. I arrived, car seat in tow, in a taxi, and the receptionist pointed me "not far" to a building right up a steep hong kong hill. if I'd had to, I'd have climbed it with the seat and the baby, in the hot sun. as it turned out, I left the seat at reception, and found the playgroup right next door, not up the hill. and I've never in my life been so glad to see a room full of blonds. yes, Western women, with Western babies. speaking English about baby stuff. some tiny babies, a few A's age, but most importantly an overall welcoming atmosphere and people who gave me their cards and asked about A, as I did about their babies. it felt good.

then I even shared a cab back down with one woman. she's European and kept her baby on her lap while I squashed myself next to A in his giant heavy car seat. I risk being labelled paranoid - most western mums here seem to take the middle ground and use a baby bjorn in cabs - but I wouldn't do it in Australia so, so far at least, I'm using the seat. and I am so going back next week, 1/2 hour cab ride or not.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

there's a discussion on my internet board at the moment about donor embies. and the more I think of it, the less I want to let them expire or go to research. if we have any left over at all after #2, I know I'd want them to be used by potential parents. 18 years later they could resurface as people. A and #2 would be affected. but apparently there's a 3-year wait for recipient couples. and it's just not right not to help them. plus, I secretly think A. is very high-quality and they'd be darn lucky to get one like him!

but so many issues - telling the rest of the family, for instance? I don't think it would be necessary - it's no big deal even if cousins marry here and their "cousins" would be 20-40 years older than them. our parents would be 80-ish by the time any children were 18. that only leaves us, A and #2 to think about.

today I recognised myself. at the American mothers' group there was a woman with twin 9-month-olds. I asked if they had a schedule and she said "they have a very strict schedule. they have to. if they don't sleep at the same time..." it was something about the way she said "they have to". strained, definite. not need to. have to. so she could manage. I salute her for making it to the mothers' group with a crying baby in the back of the car. I suspect she was as sleep-deprived as I am, and twice as busy. didn't get to talk much, gave her my number, but I expect she won't call - too busy and lives in another part of HK.

A. celebrated his first baby group in 3 weeks by sooking like mad all the time and going to full-on crying just before we left. he didn't make the cute impression he normally does. oh well. no more of those for me anyway. the roi just isn't high enough on an 11 am meeting a 1/2 hour cab ride away. next stop: the hospital playgroup tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

really annoying thing about single motherhood (till dh gets back) - going to McDonalds, realising I've left my wallet behind, and it being so close to A's bedtime when I get to the apt again that I have to put him to bed and order delivered food instead, at seven times the cost and a one-hour wait.

dh is away, in Singapore. that is where head office is. he's talking to them about expanding the current project to cover head office and the Philipines.

how am I going to explain to him that I won't do it? Hong Kong for six months is one thing. Singapore and possibly Manila for similar periods is something else again. I love Melbourne. I love my friends. I love all that amorphous lifestyle stuff that Australia offers. even what I'm doing now is so far from my mental image of what A's second six months would be like. I want his playmates, my cousins, my Mum. and next year we should be trying for #2 (the frosties are in Melbourne), let alone being pregnant in Singapore! no. nup. in the nicest possible way: hell no.

my playdate fest is about to begin. the Yanks tomorrow, hospital Thursday and after two hours of frequent dialling I finally got through to the library's play room and got a booking for Monday afternoon.

last night he screamed for 15 minutes then went to sleep dummyless. he sooked again about 4 am but not as loudly or for as long. I woke up frequently myself - that's another issue and my circadian rhythms must be shot by now - but at least those were within my own sleep cycle, not rude screaming startles. this afternoon he cried only 10 minutes after settling for a nap, though, which blew my nap. two steps forward...

annoying things to say to a woman who is utterly exhausted with a small baby (#1 in a possible series):

"but you look so good!".

a) it's not true
b) is that supposed to make me feel better?
c) who cares? I'm half dead here!

Monday, July 12, 2004

there's only one thing worse than 2 hours of fire alarm testing (see last weeks' post.)

an hour of testing without notice. same time - the baby was just going back to sleep and will be woken again I'm sure. but without notice, I could only assume that the building was on fire. of course I rang the office to check. but gee whiz, if I wanted all that ringing and flashing lights, I would have skipped having a baby and got a job in a disco. or whatever young people call clubs these days.

it wasn't that hard really. listening to my baby cry for 40 minutes, I mean.

put him down a tad late (dh is away and I had to take him out for takeaway). at 10 I went to bed, had trouble sleeping. at 10.45 he sooked. so I fed him. back into bed. sometime, I guess around 11.30 when I'd just gone to sleep, he cried again.

and I didn't go in. maybe it was because I was more rested and could afford to lose the sleep that I could have got by patting him down and giving him his dummy. more likely, though, it was the realisation that this is insane. that one undisturbed night has made me realise just how bad, how stupid, this getting up five times a night thing has got. that I want my nights back.

so I read my "baby settling" printout (the one that says close the door.) I read my book. I hoped the neighbours couldn't hear him. I listened to the rage, the tears, the sobs. and at 12.10 he went back to sleep.

(at 1 he sooked again and I gave him the dummy. I'm not superhuman, you know)

but then he slept until 6.15 without a peep. interesting, no? I'm fairly shattered today - basically only got 5 hours, then a one-hour nap at 7.30. but if I can, I'm doing it again tonight. now that I've started, I have to be consistent with the message.


Sunday, July 11, 2004

so last night we had "professional" babysitter # 2. the quote marks are for a reason.

she was wildly attractive - tall, long dark mane of hair, short skirt, singlet top, just past 30, tanned skin, etc. I was a little taken aback that she wasn't all that interested in my long A-driving note, but in the general discomfort of her looks, her confident conversation, trying to get dinner eaten and get out the door, I let it pass. I did make her take the note into her hand to be sure she registered it. I showed her the baby's sleep area and did say "don't pick him up if you can help it" and so on. she was affectionate enough so I let it pass. I did ask her to read to him, partly as a way of reminding her what her job was. when I was ready to put him to bed she said "just one more page" and read that - I should have realised what that meant right there.

during the movie I was less relaxed than last week with the other sitter. sure enough, when we got home his alarm was on "tick", meaning she'd had to turn it off and back on, and then not properly.

she greeted us with a tale of how he'd turned into a "monster" - how he'd cried, how he'd waved his arms around, how he'd not wanted to go to sleep and "wanted to get up because he knew I (conceited babysitter) was here".

so she'd got him up, hadn't she? for a couple of hours. to play. play. at 9pm. oh, sure, after a while she bothered to look at my written instructions and seen that she'd been patting him on the tummy whereas the trick is to pat the side and say shhhh. and after a whole ten minutes (poor love!) this had settled him.

we have spent months on end, night and day, sitting by that cot resisting picking him up. shooshing him. patting him. in all kinds of states of exhaustion, under all sorts of pressure of time, guests in the other room etc. and she just gets a little bothered and picks him up. not only potentially blowing his training for us, but giving us a tired baby all the next day. and this on the night that dh is sitting for me and I'm off to my own apartment for the night. I didn't even bother saying anything. she's never getting near my baby again. I can forgive her being gorgeous and flaunting it at my dh (hey, she wasn't a redhead so it's safe), but people who don't read the instructions on a microwave are fools. on a baby, culpable. lucky she didn't decide to make him a nice omelette with milk and cheese while she was at it. maybe with peanut butter on toast as a side dish. (the instructions also detail his potential allergies and food rules.) how could you ever rely on someone like that to care for your baby as you wish?

as it turned out, A. was good for dh last night, (one wakeup after the 10.30 rollover) had a big bowl of muesli at 6.30 and went back to sleep at 7.30 for two hours (exhuasted from partying of course). and me? oh, I slept OK. it was just nice to know I wouldn't be woken by crying. I still woke up, but in my own time. hey, I'm still tired. but I've had my little holiday. now dh is off to head office for 2 days and we're on our own. time to head out into HK for some baby admiration time.

Friday, July 09, 2004

my Mum always asks if I'm writing things down and I say "not really" (well, I can hardly show her my blog, can I?).

so let the record show: July 9, A. had breakfast for the first time.

this is good, because on July 10, I have another apartment in the building for the night. and I plan to feed A at 10, go there to sleep and let dh deal with things from there until, oh, 8 am? he can give the baby formula, muesli, whatever. for once he can suffer the crying and carrying on while I sleep. the other apt. is 17 floors down and on the other side of the building. that should just about muffle the screams.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

aargh. there's a perfect 10-day period with no playgroups etc in late August, exactly halfway between our arrival and the trip back to melbourne for A's birthday. I already have two medical appointments for him then. so when do the in-laws decide to visit? right then. for that exact time. completely inflexibly as it's sandwiched between two of fil's very important business meetings here and in Singapore. so I either go early and miss the Aussie playgroup, or late and miss the start of term for two local playgroups.

or forget about .au and go to England instead. or something. but I miss the dog. I miss the mothers' group particularly. and A. needs to see his family in Australia as well as those that can come here. darn!!!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

so they tell us they're testing the alarm system here. fine, gotta be done. they say the fire alarm will go off between 3-5 yesterday and today. right. like, occasionally, yes? maybe once or twice?

no. ALL the f-ing time. randomly. loudly. with a flashing light inside the apartment. every 3-6 minutes. for TWO HOURS. with a baby asleep crying. I had to get the hell out yesterday afternoon and today I suppose I will again, raining or now.

um guys? the alarm WORKS ALREADY!!!

as the American women in the building aren't shaping up as well as I'd hoped - the pregnant one is OK, but I don't feel we have that much to talk about, and the mother of the 7 month old is too busy to keep a date with me and I expect will continue to be fairly unreliable - I'm working on Project Playgroup.

stayed up too late last night hanging around bulletin boards and searching expat associations for playgroups. now I have a couple of leads - the American and Australian groups have monthly meetings, there's a library with toy library in Causeway Bay, and a couple of women who live round here are in preliminary message contact. I can't wait for my "friend" from elbourne to arrive in late July, even though we've only met once. it beats going to baby depts of big stores in order to get some human contact. how sad is that?

still not sure about going home in August - now dh's parents are visiting the very weekend I was going to be home, which means I'd have to move the trip AND move A's medical appointments.

the babysitter service Rent-a-mum has been disappointing. Saturday's sitter was nice, but off o/s for six weeks now, and the woman coming this afternoon tried to change to 2-6, which would suck for several reasons (my nap, her leaving too early etc) so I cancelled altogether.

time for mininap #2 of the day...

yawn. late. should be in bed. cot bought. babysitter service stuffing us around - have cancelled.

and TOOTH! well, a tiny corner of one.

it's all very exciting. but now I need to sleep.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

the Ikea trip also held a new lesson for me: HK people may adore white babies, but they don't approve of crying ones. A got sooky, so I put his wrap over the pram - standard "go to sleep" procedure - and he whipped up a crying storm. I suspect he can't sleep in the semi-reclined position of the smaller stroller. anyway, the looks I got! like I was torturing him. maybe Asian babies are more placid - I have heard that - but surely they cry sometimes? and it took all my strength to leave him covered in the attempt at sleep rather than uncover him, which would have stopped him crying but kept him awake. and I really want him to be able to nap in the pram when he's out, for both our sakes.

just checked "help" and indeed Safari doesn't display the link, italics etc buttons. but then again, Blogger now tells me when a link is broken. and imho, every blogger should know very basic html. as every Word user should know how to spell without a spellcheck.

outside, 150,000 (approx) Indonesian and Filipino "helpers" are thronging Causeway Bay. and I'm hiding inside behind closed drapes while A. sleeps.

this morning I declined a free trip to Macau and went to Ikea insted. well, I'm tired!

the cots were useless-no drop sides for a start. so it looks like either the mega-expensive version from Times Square or a mini-cot from Sogo, and we'll take the chance of A. outgrowing it.

I did however, get several fine items to set up a proper baby room - playmat, toy net, cheap cushions for him to fall on. we'll be here six months, I may as well get used to it.

but will I ever be able to look at Ikea product names again without snorting?

Friday, July 02, 2004

weird. safari doesn't show the "link" option on blogger. so I have to handcode links to hilarious getupgrrl posts like this

the sun has set at Dawn's. I can only wish her well with her precious family.

another night/moring like that and I'll be on the plane back to Australia and A. will be an only child, I swear it.

five wakeups. or six. I dunno, does it matter? it seems that his couple of OK nights were just exhaustion and he's back in form now. yesterday was an ugly day, too, with a headache from walking to the pool in the heat and eating late (dh promised to be home at 6.30, wandered in at about 7, doesn't realise that yes it makes a difference)

so I'm back to where I started, if not worse after the flight/moving/moving again early next week to a new apt. and I realise through my tired weepies that dh has dropped the idea of getting two apartments for the night of the changeover. and that I have to start that discussion all over again, and believe me I don't have the energy for it.

then it transpires that he'd "judged" that it "wouldn't make that much difference" for me to have my own apt for a night, given I'd have to do a late feed then be back at 6 am. and that he'd not told me this because he didn't think I could have a rational discussion about it. patronising fucker. I'm exhausted, probably depressed and hysterical with tiredness, but I'm not, not stupid.

there are women in the building I'm trying to make friends with. but I'm passing up dates because I need afternoon naps or I'm just plain too tired to be chatty. there are people I could email to catch up with for coffee. but I'm not because I don't have the mental energy to schmooze.

he gets to go to the office every day where he has two Melbourne workmates and a whole team of underlings and peers. I have none of that. I'll be better later today, but right now I feel isolated, exhausted and quite unable to cope. and that he has no understanding of how I feel if he can "judge' that one sweet seven-hour stretch of sleep is not worth bothering to ask/pay for for - either that or he doesn't care. what, does he think 'she's tired anyway, what difference will it make?'

yep, that plane to Australia is looking good.

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