Countdown to TTC for baby #2: our timeline

My wife has started reminding me with increasing frequency that she wants another kid, and although we talk about it as something way down the road (“some day…”), there are a lot of moving pieces in our timeline and I think we need to be clear about all of the variables.

We’re still not planning to have another baby until I’ve finished my PhD, gotten a job, and have worked at that job long enough to be eligible for maternity leave. But the shortest estimated end-date for my PhD is about one year from today, and you only need to work about 3 months (600 hours) to qualify for maternity leave in my province. If I were lucky and got a job just a couple of months out of school, we could technically be birthing┬ábaby #2 a year and a half from now (*HARD GULP* – did not realize the shortest timeline was so short…).

And now for the longest (more realistic) timeline estimate. I would very much like to have baby #2 before I’m 35 – I already feel limited by my age when I’m too tired or stiff to keep up with my toddler (*side note: not all 35 year olds feel as old as I do and plenty of moms older than 35 can keep up with toddlers just fine). I’ll be 35 in July 2020. It takes 10 months to grow a baby from conception; therefore, I’d like to be working on conceiving baby #2 by early next fall (2019), which also happens to be about the time I hope to be starting a job. Yikes – when I lay it out like that we’re really cutting it close to the start of my future career. Sorry, future employer. And let’s hope I can actually find a job right away…

If we follow through on our plan for reciprocal IVF, it takes time to go through the planning, appointments, plus the 6-month sperm quarantine for a known donor. Let’s work backwards to see when we need to start the ball rolling:

June 2020 – Have baby #2. I’ll be about to turn 35, and Avery will be about to turn 4.

October 2019 – Conceive baby #2.

March 2019 – Put our donor’s sperm on ice and wait 6 months for him to get re-tested for STIs. Following testing, IVF can be done.

September 2018 – Start talking to our donor about going through the more intensive donor process for IVF, start researching reciprocal IVF.

So it looks like I have about 6 more carefree months before TTC research consumes my brain again! And I thought I was consumed by research on at-home insemination…. IVF is a whole new ballgame that I never thought I’d have to learn about. Maybe I can convince my wife to take the lead on research this time.





Our daughter’s relationship with our donor

On the weekend we went to our donor’s youngest daughter’s first birthday party. We knew that by choosing a close friend as a sperm donor we’d need to be OK with seeing a lot of each other; there was always a risk that once our baby was born we’d feel awkward about it and it would have a negative impact on our friendship. But we certainly didn’t anticipate that having him as our donor would make us closer as friends, and would see us spending more time together as families. I think this is a sign that our donor arrangement has gone really well.

At this birthday party, our donor took the time to play with Avery. He really engaged with her. It made me contemplate all the fears and trepidation we had while we worked out our donor contract. I used to worry a lot about people (either our donor, society, or even Avery herself) seeing him as a “father figure.”

But now, after watching them interact and knowing from the past 18 months of experience that there’s no awkwardness or selfish intentions, I want to see their relationship grow.

I feel a desire to be crystal clear about language here, though. We still don’t see him as a father figure, and we still don’t refer to him as a “biological father”. I don’t think he would, either. We refer to him as our donor, and we describe his role as the person who donated sperm to us so WE (my wife and I) could have a baby. Any special relationship that blossoms between them doesn’t have to change that language.

But a blossoming relationship seems kind of nice to me now, whereas before it was a bit terrifying. I like the idea of him caring about her. I like the idea of her knowing, and hopefully even liking, the person who contributed to her genetic makeup. She can look for bits and pieces of herself in him, if she chooses to. (She can also look for parts of herself in my wife, because genetics only takes you so far in making you who you are). I like that if she has questions about her genetic heritage, she can just call him up and ask.

This comfort with, and even preference for, a relationship between our daughter and her donor has taken me by surprise. I guess there’s really no way to predict what your kid’s relationship will look like with a known donor, or donor-siblings. I’m so thankful that ours seems to be better than we expected, when it could have gone the other way almost just as easily.

Daylight saving time had nothing on us

Sleep has been so messed up lately that we didn’t even notice the daylight saving time change.

My mom did bedtime on Friday night because my wife and I were out on a date until 11:30 (cue applause). It didn’t go great… It’s the second time my mom did bedtime, but the first time she did it there was frozen milk to offer in a bottle. This was the first night Avery had to go to sleep with absolutely no milk. Apparently there were lots of tears, and she finally fell asleep at 9pm. She woke a lot through the night and wanted long cuddles – she clearly missed us. I felt really guilty.

She continued her 4:30-5:30am wake ups over the weekend.

On Saturday night she was awake from 11:30pm until 3am, trying valiantly to get back to sleep without nursing. She tossed and turned both next to us and on her own, she sang to herself, she played quietly with stuffed animals, but finally she started to lose her patience at 3 (as did we), and I nursed her to sleep (it took just a few minutes, after hours of trying on her own). And then of course she was up for the day at 5am.

On Sunday she begged to go for a nap at 9am. We had a friend’s first birthday party that day over Avery’s usual nap time, so we thought an early nap would be ok. She slept for 30 minutes. She was so exhausted that by the time we got home from the part she slept for 3 hours. She woke up at 6pm. Never a good sign for bedtime.

She went to bed at 9pm, and although she only woke twice through the night, I was so tired that I fell asleep sitting on the floor next to her bed both times and now I’m super stiff.

This is nothing too out of the ordinary for us, but the tough sleep stints are always hard. I know it will be over soon enough, and I just have to cling to that thought.

Anyway, we barely noticed that daylight saving time was occurring. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse that having to deal with transitioning a schedule-rigid kid to a different bedtime and wake up time… Either way, we’ve always had bigger sleep-fish to fry than to worry about a time change.

We’ve joined the Paw Patrol fan club [insert eye roll here]

We try to curate what Avery watches on Netflix. We don’t have cable, so it should be easy to make sure she only watches shows we’re on board with. We have nothing against Paw Patrol, really, besides the fact that it’s kind of annoying to the parents… And I suppose we also dislike how the characters always win at everything – losing isn’t an option. We want Avery to see examples of people failing on their first try. We want her to not be afraid of or stunned by failure. Anyway, we’re not against the show, we just prefer that she watch other things.

But somehow we have a Paw Patrol addict on our hands. Her great-aunt got her some Paw Patrol books for Christmas, and while visiting her cousin she was exposed to the show for the first time. When I was scrolling through Netflix to find Llama Llama, Avery was looking over my shoulder and spotted the Paw Patrol icon. We gave it a try. She grabbed one of her Paw Patrol books and excitedly pointed from the book to the TV. And with that, she was hooked. Now whenever she pulls her book off the shelf, she points to the tv and says “Paw? Paw?”

We’ve started watching it every morning before daycare while I make breakfast and feed the cats and fuel up with coffee.

Does anyone else find it kind of annoying for the parents?

Does anyone have good kids show recommendations?

3 Things on Sunday

1. My PhD research proposal was accepted!! I waited a month for my advisory committee to come together for a meeting, and the meeting went amazingly well. I can finally – after 3 years and 2 other proposal attempts that fell through for different reasons – finally, move on to actually DOING THE RESEARCH and finishing this f-ing degree and get a job.

2. I had my first me-time in a long time getting my hair done this weekend, but thoughts of how expensive it was going to be and how much I just wanted to be home with my little family made the whole 2 hour process unenjoyable. It’s funny how you can be at your wit’s end with trying to keep up with your demanding toddler’s needs and then in only 5 minutes of being alone feel like your heart is aching from missing that wonderful, demanding toddler.

3. Night weaning is going really well, but sleep isn’t… It’s complicated. Avery has been sick forever and the cough still keeps her up at night. The doctor assures us it’s normal for kids her age in daycare to be sick for this long, and for things like runny noses and coughs to linger well beyond the duration of the actual bug. She’s also struggling with yet another itchy post-viral rash (apparently she’s prone to them). So she does a lot of crying through the night, and I used to be able to make her feel better by nursing. Now we just put a hand on her back and lay next to her while she fusses, and she doesn’t even ask for milk to help her get through it. She just deals with it. It makes me proud of her, and also sad that the instant comfort phase of her life is over. She makes her own comfort, now. That said, last night she was really upset, and I brought her into our bed to sleep on top of me. Just because we’ve night weaned doesn’t mean we’ll let her suffer all night or go without sleep.

The good news is, she usually goes from 7pm to 4am with only one wake up that we need to go to her bedside for (that one wake up takes 2 minutes for my wife and an hour for me, though). The bad news is, 4am is when she wakes up for the day now… We’ve let her have an earlier nap to compensate, but that just messes with her afternoon energy levels. Can’t wait for her to settle into the new normal without night (and morning) nursing and hopefully find a good rhythm we can all be happy with.

Reflections on Night Weaning (at it again…)

*Photo from

Night weaning is hard, even when it’s easy. Avery’s only nursing twice a day now, to sleep at nap and bedtime. It’s a big change from nursing all night long, snuggled beside me. We’re doing this to give her a gentle nudge toward sleep independence, but it’s just as much about me breaking my dependency on nursing away her every tear, every cough, every nightly stir. That has been such a wondrous gift, and although I’m theoretically ready to make the separation, my heart never will be.

I miss her as I lay in my bed and listen to her snore through the monitor. I feel jilted that I can’t lay with her all night anymore (part of our night weaning plan). I feel anxious waiting for her next wake up, wondering how difficult it’ll be to get her back to sleep, how many tears she’ll shed, how long the protest will last.

We have officially been one week without night nursing. I’m going to give it another couple of weeks before claiming that the transition period is over, but so far Avery’s doing a really good job learning to get back to sleep without nursing. Last time what broke us was her 3-5am insomnia, and her being sick. Both of those things are happening again, but we’re powering through this time. With every month older she gets, she can also understand better what’s expected of her at night, and that makes me feel better about it.

With the huge decrease in nursing comes a change in hormones. I’m getting some signs that I might be ovulating for the first time in almost 2 and a half years. Yes, you read that right – I haven’t had my period since we conceived Avery. It has been a wonderful, crampless, dry, and clean part of my life. I’m not eager for it to return.

One final reflection on night weaning: choosing to night wean was a decision I made for my marriage over my child. That alone has a lot of complex emotions associated with it. And while my wife is purely excited, I have to keep reminding myself that my marriage deserves to get priority over the child this once. It will all trickle down to benefit Avery in the long run. If my wife and I are a satisfied, happily married team, Avery will have a good relationship role model to look up to in her parents.

18 months

Height: 33 inches

Weight: 29 pounds

Clothing size: 2/3T

Eighteen months is kind of a milestone for me. I had the idea that Avery at 18 months would be happier, easier to communicate with, more fun, and more independent. And she is all of those things!

As with any age and stage of development, though, there are ups and downs. Let’s start with the awesome things she has started to do that make life more enjoyable.

She asks to colour, or to play with playdough, and she’ll sit at the table doing these independent activities, by herself, while I do dishes or make a meal. We go for walks outside without the stroller, and she splashes in puddles and crashes through the snow. And at this wonderful age, she happily holds my hand without a fight.

She sits down and takes off her own boots, mits, hat and coat (although she still gets stuck in her coat).

If she spills something, she gets a cloth off the kitchen counter (yes, she’s that tall) and wipes it up. She picks up garbage laying around the house and carries it to the garbage can (did I just admit that my house is littered with garbage?)

Her language is starting to develop more rapidly. One day she could suddenly say “Cheerio”, and the next day she had mastered “turtle”. She can identify and say (more or less) a few colours now: pink, blue, purple, yellow and orange.

She has gotten scary good at animal sounds. She even does the elephant sound using her arm as the trunk, and cats are now called “Meow” instead of “cat”. My favourite is the monkey sound: “ooh ooh ooh ooh!” and sometimes “ah ah ah ah!” I hope I always remember the adorable way she pronounces things right now. My favourite is whale, which she pronounces “whay-oo.”

Her favourite song is row row row your boat. She asks for us to sing it with her (and do the rowing motions) by starting us off with “row row row.” We watch a music video to this song on the YouTube channel Super Simple Learning Songs and she demands it on repeat. I have to say, I approve of her rather peaceful choice in kid music.

She can also repeat the numbers 1, 2 and 3 and can identify them whens she sees them in print. We’re pretty sure she knows the letter A. When we write her name she points at and says “A“. Interestingly, she just recently started talking in her sleep, too. Language is definitely blossoming.

Although her mind is burgeoning with new information, there are some challenges to this age as well. For starters, her sleep and separation anxiety haven’t changed much. She is still incredibly glued to me, and is going through a phase of waking as soon as I leave her side. Thank goodness we invested in a comfortable twin mattress for her room…

And on the flip side of her loving to wipe up messes, she can’t stand it when her toys are confined to a basket and she needs to dump everything all over the floor, even if she’s not playing with it. When she’s done colouring she whips the crayons across the room, or sweeps them all on the floor with one, agressive arm motion. She is also the messiest eater our daycare provider claims to have ever seen. She has diverse interests – cleaning and making messes.

She has entered the picky eater stage. Her favourite foods are less favourite and more like tolerated. Those are: Pickles, goldfish, berries, bananas, and sometimes peas. She has a particular affinity for gherkin pickles and will stand at the fridge saying “pee-ls? Pee-ls?” until we get her one. She’s a bottomless pit for pickles, and we usually stop her at 3.

Finally, the biggest challenge with this age is the boundary pushing and the refusal to listen. We’re trying to take it all in stride and appreciate this new behaviour for what it is (a natural part of developing as an autonomous person), but boy oh boy does it wear us out.

The next time I update on Avery’s development will probably be when she turns two. I have no idea what life will be like by then, but for now, I want to fully appreciate all that makes my 18 month old who she is. She’s friendly and loving, she thrives being out of the house and around people, she gives kisses to mere photos of any kind of animal, and she tries her mightiest to get calm snuggles with her face nestled into the cats’ fur. She’s loud, she makes hilarious and strange noises, and she talks constantly (even though most of it is still gibberish). She loves to make people laugh, but she can also be intensely serious. She can give a wicked evil glare, and she has an evil laugh to go along with it. She is a seriously awesome little person. Happy 18 months, Avery!