Friday, November 30, 2007

More news from the trenches

Recently I have noticed that when I am awake at night worrying, or sitting at my desk trying to think of something to write on a project, or lying on my yoga mat, it is mainly not having a baby that is preoccupying my mind. It is mainly work, or Alien Spouse*'s work, or family arrangements, or what we're doing at the weekend, or the dismal state of repair/tidiness of our house (the last much improved recently actually).

I'm not sure if this is a sign of a lot going on at work, or in other parts of my life, or if my mood has actually improved, or if it's the omega 3s, or having a somewhat less stressed Alien Spouse, but it's quite good. I even heard that one of the admin people at work is expecting a second baby (her first was born two months before our first would have been - so I knew she was pregnant when I wasn't telling people I was), and managed not to cry at my desk later.

In other news, and I am shamefully late with this first one, S at work and her husband have heard they have a referral for a baby in Central America. Fabulous news as they were not sure the programme was even continuing. Very young baby - as it is so rare in the UK to adopt from overseas I have probably already said too much.

Secondly however I got a text from my best woman tonight saying she had a negative test after their first ICSI. "Gutted" obviously, but clearly that doesn't even begin to describe it. I don't know whether to call or leave them to have some space so I think I will text back and suggest she calls if she needs to. I think we are probably lucky that we haven't had to consider that - although it has at times been very frustrating to have month after month of nothing, we've never really had one big cycle that everything was hanging on, nor any reason to believe we can't get pregnant on our own. Having something they can theoretically fix must make it much worse when the fixing doesn't work.

*In preparation for our possible US stay we've been looking up visas - I am a citizen, which seems to make things more complicated, not less. But this makes him an Alien Spouse. I told him to comb his tentacles and hide them under a hat at the interview.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It never rains but it pours...

Sorry for the deluge of posts after the silence! I had been very mysterious about a couple of things before going away but the summary is I'd applied for a job, had a telephone interview while I was away, but didn't get it. I should hear this week whether my work is going to give me a sabbatical but if they don't, although I will be complaining vociferously (there are equal opps issues) that should mean we are staying put and not just doing the training and approval process for foster care, but actually going ahead with some placements, in 2008. If we did go away on sabbatical we'd probably get the training and approval out of the way before we went, but no placements.

I think you need to reconfirm your approval annually, so we'd then need to be reconfirmed when we returned. But that wouldn't be a big deal. And by that time we would probably have decided whether that is our long-term future or whether we want to switch to adoption - but I'd be happy to do the respite foster caring while we went through adoption approval.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

If you had never seen or heard of an ultrasound

what would you think of it?

A colleague is starting a research project which will involve giving
ultrasounds to pregnant women in a developing country. While there are lots of benefits, I am sure, especially as many of these mothers are at risk of mental health problems and bonding with their baby may help them with this, lots of them are at risk for other things - particularly stillbirth - some of which might be noticed on an ultrasound before they are noticed at birth. Would it be isolating or traumatic to find out something was badly wrong before birth, when you knew other women who'd had a stillbirth or a neonatal death but mainly they had found out after the birth that something was wrong? Would you think the ultrasound had caused the problem?

I've been involved with the consent explanations for this - the information sheet you get when participating in medical research, in this case including an oral explanation - and I've probably had the most ultrasounds of anyone involved on the project, including the British colleague with two children. So I'm gathering my thoughts for further information that the women might need, that we can add to the explanations.


is the name of a two-year-old chimpanzee. She lives with her mother, Katie, in a refuge for orphaned and trafficked chimpanzees. As the refuge area is only theoretically big enough for four chimps to have enough to eat in the wild, and in fact more than 40 live there (they are fed four times daily by their keepers), the females are given contraceptive implants - but, like humans, they don't always work. Hence Surprise. We saw her and the other 40 on their island last Saturday.

All of the other chimps want to care for Surprise, but Katie only lets those who have been nice to her in the past have contact with the baby. Most of the new chimps who come into the refuge are quite young, less than 3 years old (chimps stay with their mother until they are about 12) - usually they are orphaned when their parents are killed, or discovered when someone is trying to sell them as house pets or to a circus - and the other adult chimps also compete to become a foster carer for the new babies. Seems that chimps can also feel childless.

I am of course very interested in primate communication, though, so I'll not have any comments about how very human they are, and how they can TALK you know, TALK. They have some gestures - but according to my data, the ones they develop spontaneously or learn from each other are about the level of a 6 to 7 month-old human infant. If you are at all interested, the difference between the species seems to be mainly due to the human infant's desperate desire to connect with, copy, and attend to the same things as, older humans. Chimps may love each other and they are definitely affectionate but they when they make eye contact it is direct - they don't seem to work out that someone else looking at something means they are paying attention to it, nor therefore to extrapolate that the look-er wants them to pay attention too.