Thursday, November 23, 2006

There’s confidence for you…

An internet friend of mine who’s been trying to get pregnant for very slightly longer than us, who is about 10 years younger but otherwise whose path pretty much mirrors ours (one miscarriage about two months after mine, at 14 weeks, one suspected miscarriage about 4 or 5 months after that, a variety of investigations which revealed nothing much except possible low ovarian reserve, but that wasn’t certain) has just announced she’s pregnant.

At 3 weeks 5 days. 9 DPO. Including her due date – and the fact that she thinks it’s actually 4 days later due to ovulating late.

OK, so I announced my last pregnancy on here at 4w3d. But not on any of the message boards I read. And I didn’t even calculate my due date – and I now deliberately don’t know it. I will allow myself to feel sad on the anniversary of finding out I was pregnant the first time, as I think it’s around then.

In our world, the last cycle is over – phew – a uterine biopsy is, well, OUCH. And DOUBLE OUCH. Followed by lots of spotting and a thankfully early period, which at least put an end to the spotting. I bought a Mooncup. I have been putting this off for ages as I thought you had to buy different ones dependent on whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or not, but it also depends on age which affects your pelvic floor muscles. I have to say that I probably could have used the girls’ version as I do Pilates and yoga and, erm, lets just say have a busy night-time life, certainly much busier than I did before I was 30. But no matter. It is so far no more uncomfortable than a tampon (I know it’s there but it doesn’t hurt) and it is quite convenient to know it can stay there for a much longer period of time.

We took in our CRB forms this week and as far as we know it all went well, but I may have to have US clearance forms, and I had a panic when someone mentioned references from all the jobs, voluntary or otherwise, that have been with children – that would be starting with volunteering at the university playgroup when I was 19 – does it even still exist? But apparently a selection will do, so I am to make a list of the organisations that I can remember.

Reading continues, for me at least (Mr. Spouse is not such a good reader – and is also feeling a little reluctant at the moment – but I think he’ll manage to process a few selected books in the end). I’ve finished reading (or, at least, skimming) three books by Caroline Archer, which seem OK; one thing that strikes me is that they use behavioural techniques while being rather scathing about them, and trying very hard to come from a hugely psychodynamic perspective. They explain interactions in terms of psychodynamics (the one I’m reading at the moment, by Vera Fahlberg, even goes on about Freud and the Oedipal phase – I didn’t realise anyone even put that in books any more) but then suggest largely behavioural interventions for the difficulties children have – introducing things gradually, in safe and anxiety-free environments, is a staple of e.g. behavioural therapy for phobias. The other thing that slightly bugs me is that none of the interventions have in any way been proven in any kind of research trial. I’ll read on.

I’m off on my exotic trip on Tuesday – not, I have to say, as excited as I could be – the journey there will take 48 hours including a nearly-24h stopover, and Mr. Spouse can’t come. I’ll be back just before Christmas so behave yourselves while I’m gone.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sorry to leave you hanging on there!

Blogger does not like very long posts, and I had been sitting on three quarters of a post for a few days, so thought I’d just put it up.

To continue the story: A lived with me for about six months, during which time he started school and learned a lot of appropriate skills. He started to refer to me as his mother. this is not such a big deal as it may sound – most African children have more than one adult woman they will call or refer to as Mama – it is sometimes necessary to ask people whether the person they are talking about is their birth mother/father and it’s not considered at all an insulting question. He would tell people when we were out that I was his mother – when he was living with me this seemed appropriate – and people would ask us this. This may seem a completely ignorant and mad question, but you have to bear in mind that it is very common in the region to see a white (albino) child both of whose parents are black, and for all they knew there was a similar genetic error which could make it happen the other way round. A became affectionate – but appropriately so – towards me, and seemed to enjoy living with us (my housekeeper and me).

He was also a little terror. It is very likely that he was sexually abused, possibly by the boys who were living across the road. The pattern in the region seems to be for older boys to “educate” younger boys by either forcing them to have sex, or to watch them. Anyway, he had inappropriate knowledge and, according to a colleague, tried to kiss her very forcefully. After I left, there was a rumour he had tried, or even managed, to rape a girl in his school. He could also be violent and oppositional – he was never violent or sexual to me but could be very oppositional, tended to run away (I had to chase him round town in the car a couple of times).

When A was a small child, his mother died, as I have said. His father was a refugee from Mozambique, and had no family locally. He had worked as night watchman for a family who, I believe, were from the UK, and A had lived with them when he was small. He spoke pretty good English for a child from his area (normally it is limited to Howareyouteacher) and gravitated towards wazungu (white people). The British family had wanted to adopt him but his father had understood this would mean not seeing him again and had said no. The only person left to care for him was his alcoholic father. We think he was enrolled in school aged 7 – we are not sure if there are some relatives of his mother locally – and things seem to have gone OK for a little while, until he ran away – aged 10, at most – and his father didn’t look for him.

Parenting was hard, and I don’t know how I would have coped with life as a single “parent” if it had not been for my housekeeper. Not only did she do lots of practical things round the house (but teaching A to do the things that were appropriate for his age), but she also babysat when I was away (he bit her), and gave me advice on how she would have expected her brothers and sisters to behave at that age. She was very longsuffering and I was, I hope, appropriately grateful.

The end of this stage of the story comes when I had to move back home and find somewhere else for him to live. His father this time wanted me to adopt him and take him home. I didn’t even know where I was going (as it turned out, I spent the next six months constantly moving) and if I would be allowed to do this, I did do some half-hearted investigating but it was never really going to be an option. I needed to find him a family locally.

Fostering and adoption are just not common at all in the region – people do not care for children that are not kin – so this was hard. He went to stay with a pastor and his family for a weekend and they said they couldn’t cope with him. I was in floods of tears coming home from their house – one of those count-on-the-fingers-of-my-hands floods that only come a few times in your life. Finally a very good woman who worked for the project, who was a friend of mine, said she’d take him in. My job was being taken over by a friend of mine, who continued to employ her, and I knew I could send something for his support through him, so I was very relieved. In fact not everyone on the project liked her (the other colleague I mentioned above, in particular, didn’t) but that didn’t really matter. At least he had somewhere to live.

There is more to come, I just don’t know when!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Instant parent

I don't think I've blogged about this already, but stop me if I have.

Stirrup Queens blogged about "finding a baby on the doorstep"; well, this almost happened to me. As in, it wasn't a baby, it was a ten-year-old boy.

When I lived in East Africa, lots of the neighbourhood kids used to come round and play on my sizeable balcony and watch my video and when there was food, they would eat. A group of older teenagers moved into a house opposite and one of the kids that was hanging around at mealtimes was A, who was 10. Turned out he was living with them, doing odd jobs, he had been living on the street, and I found out he wasn't enrolled in school, and asked around - my housekeeper suggested we needed to find out if he had parents before doing anything about this. So we put the word out on the bush telegraph and his dad turned up.

A's father was alcoholic and his mother had died when he was a young child. His father was more than happy for us to feed and clothe him so long as he didn't have to. So he moved in to the spare room. When he came he had only one set of clothes, no underwear, no toothbrush or comb, no school clothes, I think he may have had some flipflops but no proper shoes. Lest you think "well, he's a small African child", most of the children in my town had all those things, and their mothers would have been ashamed to let them out of the house in the state he was in. He didn't know how to wash his own clothes, and the other children laughed at him when they found this out, because they had all been doing theirs since they were small.

There is a lot more to this story, which I may tell you at one point, but at the time I remember thinking "well, I didn't think my first experience of parenting would be a stroppy 10-year-old boy". I was only just old enough to be his mother, realistically, but I was at least an adult. I have also had a lot of people comment "oh, how good of you that was" but really, was I going to chuck him back on the streets? What else could I do?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Of course when I want cycles like clockwork...

I'm going to go to the big hospital again next week to have the uterine biopsy (just thinking about it makes me wince) for the clinical trial - I was supposed to ring up on getting a positive OPK. This should have been on Wednesday (CD15 - and I had started my period very early in the morning this month so I was pretty confident). I bought (from Ebay) some very fancy OPKs just to be sure (usually I use hijacked fertility meter sticks). No little smiley face. Nothing on Thursday either. Am I using them wrong? I thought. Maybe they are too clever for me. But finally on Friday they did their stuff. Which (annoyingly, and I am telling you lot because you will appreciate - Mr. Spouse attempted to nod off when I told him) means that I will be going to Exotic Climes on next months' CD 12, which doesn't really give us much of a chance - and we've had to use condoms* this month.

I have two other blogs; one of them is my diary from when I was 11, and is at - I have been finding out where all the people I was at primary school with have got to, and it is very good for me - so many of them are not in a relationship, don't have kids, have been divorced... with one happy marriage, I actually feel pretty lucky.

*that little noise you hear is us collectively whimpering.