Our daughter’s diblings (donor siblings)

We had our donor’s family over for dinner recently. Their two kids are 8 years and 18 months, and Avery has a budding friendship with both of them; especially the older one, who seriously loves Avery (seriously – she says it all the time, and hugs the daylights out of her, and it’s the sweetest thing ever).

We feel so incredibly lucky to have this positive relationship with our donor and his whole family. Although we’ve decided to have another baby so that Avery will have an actual sibling, it’s feels good to know she has other kids out there her age who she can be connected to in a special way. It’s different from a friendship, and it’s definitely not a sibling relationship. It’s just a unique relationship that not all kids get to experience.

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Tis’ the season for sickness

I have been waiting for months to get my data for my dissertation. It finally arrived on Sunday night. On Monday morning Avery woke up way too sick to go to daycare. I did what little work I could while caring for a sick child, but it wasn’t the productive day I’d been so excited for. And now, on Tuesday, Avery’s well enough to go to daycare, but I’m sick. My head is a little foggy for the detailed stats I want to be doing…

#momlife.

Fertility tracking

I have re-downloaded Fertility Friend, the ovulation charting app that helped us to inseminate efficiently the first time. I tried taking my temperature this morning for fertility tracking, but the battery was dead in my basal thermometer. I’m surprised I even kept it after we made one baby and deciding we were one-and-done. I bought a new battery and plan to start charting temps asap, but it’s very different this time around. In case you haven’t used temperature charting before, the rules are simple but tough to follow: take your temp IMMEDIATELY upon waking, at the same time every day, and put your daily temp on a graph to watch for the rise in temperature associated with ovulating. These days, I sometimes wake up in my bed, sometimes in Avery’s, sometimes at 5am, sometimes at 7am, and I’m up through the night, too. I don’t think I can depend on just temping.

So today I bought the digital ovulation monitor that I used last time for our actual inseminations. It’s a $50 device that comes with 10 ovulation tests, and it’s another $40 to get all the refill test strips I would hopefully need throughout our next round of TTC. It’s expensive, but what I like about it is that it distinguishes between the days leading up to ovulation and the actual day before ovulation (when the lutenizing hormone peaks). It’s really, really handy for the at home inseminating families who don’t have ultrasounds or meds to guide them. When I got the hang it of it last time, I was able to give our donor several days notice for the upcoming ovulation/insemination. And it’s better than temping for me these days, with the #momlife that I wasn’t living last time we conceived.

So that’s where we are with TTC right now. We’re tracking my cycles, and planning a get-together with our donor and his wife for early in the new year to talk about it. We hang out with them a lot, but always with kids in tow, which doesn’t give us the space to talk about making babies… This time we’re coordinating a childless double date, and I’m excited for multiple reasons!

Nightmares

My child is amazing and wonderful and all I could ever wish for, and she is also a challenged (challenging?) sleeper. I have built this blog on that premise.

We’ve been through the 4-month sleep regression that lasted until she was 1, and then the 18-month sleep regression that lasted until she was 2. But the onset of the sleep regressions was only noticeable by the increase in already frequent wake-ups, or by the extension of already lengthy and trying bedtimes, so we basically consider her entire life so far as one giant sleep regression from her first night of life, when she slept for a magical 5 hours and I woke in a panic that she hadn’t been fed in so long. That amazing first night of her life was one of the best sleeps we’ve had.

Of course she has slept through the night since then, on and off. Weaning helped a bit, and then simply growing up a bit and becoming a 2 year old helped a bit. But even though things are easier and better at night than they used to be, there’s always something that comes up and fucks with our sleep. From night terrors to colds and flues to our newest experience, nightmares.

Avery has been waking up crying about weird things, in a delirious, semi-awake state. The other night she woke up crying about her plate being dirty. Another night she woke crying about her toys missing. Thankfully the content of her nightmares so far doesn’t seem to be terribly upsetting or disturbing (from a rational, awake-person’s point of view), but we all know that bad dreams seem so much worse when we first wake from them, with the stress hormone coursing through our blood. So I understand that Avery’s legitimately upset about the dirty plate dream, or the dream about all of her toys going missing. And so, I go to her bed and reassure her, and cuddle her back to sleep. Recently, though, she went through a week of multiple “nightmares” a night. Just another reason why sleep continues to evade us.

Maybe when she’s 14 and in the sleepy teenager phase, we’ll get a good night of sleep.

5 little updates to make up for 5 missing #blogtober posts

Oh boy am I ever behind on my #blogtober daily blog challenge. Maybe I’ll try again in December.

Here’s what we’ve been up to.

  • We went to the pumpkin patch with our donor’s family. The kids all played together and the adults had a great time catching up. We still feel so lucky at how our relationship with our donor turned out.
  • We carved pumpkins and Avery was so into it. She loves crafty things, and helped us design and draw the pumpkin faces, she washed and dried the pumpkins with care, and just sat quietly watching while we did the cutting.
  • We had our first overnight away from Avery. We got a hotel at a resort near my mom’s farm and my mom took care of Avery while my wife and I got away for our 10 year dating anniversary.
  • My wife is away on her first business trip since Avery was born. It’s just two days and she put her foot down and demanded to be home for Halloween. Family first. She was so sad to be leaving us for just two days. Avery cried when she realized her Mo wasn’t here this morning (she left at 4am to catch her flight).
  • I finished Avery’s Halloween costume. She requested to dress up as a cat. We are raising a tiny cat person. I’m proud.

Canadian Thanksgiving and other random updates

I’m not exactly keeping up with the daily posts for #blogtober, so far… But it’s because we’ve been away for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend and bouncing from one family gathering to the next. At my in-laws, Avery got to spend quality time with her two cousins. One is just 5 months older than her, and the other is 2 months old. She gives her baby cousin gentle kisses on the head, and she strokes her little arms and legs and touches her fingers and toes. She’ll just sit next to her and watch her with a look of wonder and tenderness in her eye. So that makes us definitely want to give her a sibling.

When we leave family get togethers, we almost always rant for half an hour in the car as we drive away, or one of us will be crying from something a family member said or did. Family. It’s complicated.

In other news, I’m anxiously awaiting my PhD data… Data I have collected so far has not looked as expected, which is not good. It’s taking longer than I expected to collect, too. Right now we’re (loosely) planning to have baby #2 after I’ve worked for the minimum of 600 hours required to collect employment insurance. To work, I need to first get a job. To get a job, I need to first defend my dissertation. To defend, I need to write it. To write it, I need data. Data that works out for my hypotheses. So there’s a lot of pressure on getting that data collected and getting it to work out for me.

And that’s pretty much all that life involves right now – family stuff and school pressure. Thankfully, we have an amazing kid to help us find joy in the everyday moments.

Oh Crap! A mom’s experience with potty training

Potty training is exhausting. I think that the rip-the-bandaid-off style of the Oh Crap! Potty Training method might be the most exhausting. But for us, at least, it worked well and fast. In under 3 weeks from start to finish, my 24 month old was day-time potty trained. Here’s my review of the method, and my honest recollection of how it went for us. Link to buy the book at the end.

We embarked on potty training using this method a couple of days after my daughter turned 2. After the birthday party, we had a full 7 days at home with no daycare. So we ripped the bandaid. We got rid of diapers. Priority numero uno of this method is having a solid game plan. You have to be totally ready – mentally, emotionally, physically, to embark on what will be some of the most tiring and frustrating days of your parenting career (and you have to remain calm and collected during those stressful days, or it’ll backfire!) The book recommends taking 2 weeks from having read the book and deciding to go for it, to actually starting the process. There really is a lot of mental preparedness that goes into this, as a parent. Here’s what you’re preparing for:

The Oh Crap! method breaks down a condensed and rather intense process into blocks of learning. Blocks do not represent days, but I’ll share how many days we spent in each block.

Block 1

Block 1 requires your child to be naked all day, no leaving the house, all eyes on their little butt so you don’t miss a single pee or poop as it happens. That’s not even the exhausting stage. My kid did great in Block 1, and I thought we were going to get through the whole process unscathed.

The idea is to move them through the stages of bodily awareness, from:

  1. “clueless”
  2. “I peed”
  3. “I’m peeing”
  4. “I have to pee”

In that first morning, she had 7 pees on the floor (thanks to the juice box we gave her to give us more opportunity to practice). I caught all of them mid stream and relocated her to the potty, explaining that pee doesn’t go on the floor, it goes in the potty. She started out clueless to the sensation of peeing, but after all that practice of me naming it when she felt it run down her leg, she quickly progressed to “I’m peeing,” and even started to get a two second “I have to pee” warning. By 10am she had it figured out and peed in the potty every single time for the next day and a half. Poops were the same deal – she just GOT IT.

But then block 2 happened, and we had to really work for it. Turns out that cleaning up tons of pee and poop off the floor isnt the exhausting part – it’s battling your own internal voice that’s telling you you’re failing, not making progress, doing it wrong, or that your child isn’t ready afterall.

Block 2

This block introduces clothing, without underwear. The idea behind going commando is that underwear gives them the sensation of wearing a diaper in that it clings to their bums and makes them feel concealed, like no one will see if they pee or poop. That sensation triggers muscle memory to pee or poop anywhere/anytime, as they’ve done for every day of their existence thus far (that’s the logic behind the complete ditching-of-the-diapers approach with this method, as well).

Block 2 usually involves some resistance as your kid realizes you’re serious about this new arrangement and digs in their heels. We got the resistance. We saw the pee dance and had her sit on the potty, and then she’d get up, say “all done pee”, and then pee in her pants 30 seconds later. Or she’d full out refuse to sit on the potty with a terrible-two’s style tantrum. We felt like we were failing. We started to lose hope. We were frustrated. I caught myself getting short with my child for having an accident. These were dark days.

During Block 2, she started acting out a lot. She was under a lot of pressure. Even though we tried to be supportive and helpful to her in the process, she was being asked to suddenly stop doing something she had innately done every single day of her life prior, and start doing something that required a lot of body awareness and self-control. While necessary to learn, it’s a huge responsibility for little kids. The pressure was getting to her. She started waking through the night again, crying out into the darkness, “peed in bed! Pee goes in potty!” Heartbreaking.

This brings me to the fact that we didn’t even try night training. We chose to take it one step at a time – daytime potty training, while allowing a diaper to sleep in (totally permissible in the Oh Crap! book, by the way). So the fact that she was waking up freaking out about peeing the bed showed how deeply the potty training pressure was infiltrating her thoughts.

I’m lucky that we had a couple of friends who had used this method, and when we felt like ripping our hair out and drowning ourselves in vodka, we could check in with our friends and hear that they, too, went through the gamut of emotions: like sadness, disappointment, anger, guilt….

But just as the book and our friends promised, if you stay true to the cause and keep the stress and tension as low as humanly possible, and keep your eyes on your child every waking minute for any subtle sign of a pee/poop dance, you will succeed. The training will “click” for your child. For us this happened on about day 10.

Block 3

Block 3 doesn’t necessarily coincide with having the training “click” for your child. Block 3 is about testing their new skills outside of the home environment, and for many people (us included), this happens at daycare. My daughter started back at daycare on day 7, when she was still missing the potty (and I was missing her pee dance) about 30% of the time. Daycare was no different. Luckily, our daycare provider was willing to work with our game plan (and was willing to clean up pee off the floor all morning until it “clicked”). There’s a whole chapter in the book dedicated to working with daycares, though, as not everyone is as lucky as we are when it comes to flexible providers.

Block 4 and Beyond

This block of learning contains the details that you encounter in everyday life after potty training, like using public restrooms and introducing underwear (yeah, your kid is still commando after about a month).

By this block of learning, you’re starting to feel better about yourself and this whole process. Our real test of block 4 came with a trip to Avery’s cousin’s house. It was a 3 hour round trip in the car, a new environment, a trip to the park, and a restaurant trip, and she had zero accidents and even peed in the restaurant restroom. Accidents are much less common (we only had one this week, 3 weeks after starting), and only happen when she’s far too engaged in play to stop for a potty break and think she can hold it for longer than she can). But we feel justified in saying that our daughter is potty trained now because we no longer have to really think about “potty training”. We now have to think about things like if she pees before we need to leave the house, where the public restrooms are at every place we visit… But we no longer have to think about her peeing her pants while we’re out for a walk. We can take her to daycare, to the library, on car trips, and we know that she knows – reliably – that pee and poop go in the potty, not in her pants/carseat/the floor.

Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right (Oh Crap Parenting)

Potty training with the Oh Crap! method, like with slower, child-led methods, is a long process. It’s going to be another couple of months probably before we get rid of the little potty and just have her always go on the big toilet. It’s also going to be a few months before we night train (even though she always wakes up with a dry diaper, she seems relieved to know that she won’t have to worry about going potty when she’s sleeping, and we’re going to give her that break). We’re going to bring the potty with us in the car for long car trips, pack a spare pair of pants, and continue to remind her to go pee before leaving the house, probably for the next year. But right now we have a kid who knows how to get her pee and poop in the potty, rarely has accidents, can hold it for long enough to get to the potty within a reasonable distance, and feels confident in pulling her own pants down and using the potty even when we’re not in the room with her. And it took a little over 2 weeks.

If you think you can handle the intensity of this potty training method without showing your frustration and stress to your child, I absolutely recommend the Oh Crap! method. It’s fast, it’s dirty, and it works.

*side note: If you’re thinking of trying this method based only on what I’ve written in this blog post, know that the book contains all of the step-by-step instructions for the Blocks of Learning in just one chapter. That’s the simple stuff. The rest of the book is chock full of supportive, myth busting info, and SO MUCH TROUBLESHOOTING. It’s worth the $7.