Friday, June 27, 2008


I don't normally blog from work - no idea why as I do almost every other conceivable timewasting internetty thing at work - but there is 1/2 an hour to go till our end of term social and I Cannot Be Rsed to do any more work. So there.

We finished our foster care course on Tuesday and I have mixed feelings. I was kind of left wanting more, but it will be nice to get a bit of time back (it seems to have rushed by, but to have become part of our lives) and I don't know where we go from here. They are supposed to be contacting us in the next week to tell us who will be our social worker, and I was slightly relieved to hear it won't necessarily be the person who came to visit us at home - she was OK, but the two who did the course seemed a bit more open. But it's very unlikely we'd be able to finish the whole of the home study before we go away.

Mr Spouse thinks I'm being overoptimistic, and that they'll want us to wait till we come back to start, but I am thinking I should try and persuade them that it would be better to start now at least or we'll have even longer between the course and the home study (like 10-12 months instead of 7-8 in the middle). I did (I think I mentioned) apply for another job earlier in the month but haven't heard yet about it and heard on the grapevine someone much more attractive than me applied for it so am assuming at least that we'll be coming back here, not moving elsewhere on our return.

But even being pretty certain we'll be in the area and available for approval as foster carers, it still feels like we've set ourselves back with this - we won't be approved for at least another year, more like 18 months, and our personal timetable was to think about stopping trying to get pregnant and going all out for adoption at the earliest by this September and the latest next September. It looks like we won't even be approved as foster carers then. Which is depressing.

In other news, small overseas baby comes home to my colleague in about a month - very exciting. You have no idea (well, some of you do, but probably you don't) how difficult it is to find an adoption-friendly baby card in the UK. Not one with prams or "the birth of your baby" obviously, but many others are out for a variety of reasons. I finally found one with "Brand new Mummy and Daddy" on it which is a bit twee, but much more appropriate. The Twins ones were also all very twee. I'm making progress on a pile of knitting for all these babies, including the post-recurrent-pregnancy-loss-in-her-40s baby that was born last month - the hierarchy seems to be:

Baby after infertility - proper knitted garment
Singleton with no problems - hat
Twins after infertility - hats
Twins with no problems - bootees and definitely at the bottom of the pile.

Applications will be received and dealt with in the proper order. But two jackets nearly finished and two sets of bootees queued up means you could be waiting some time. Though if you are also waiting some time for your child, perhaps that will suit.

(PS Just had a knock on my door and my supervisor came in with a short but pleasant request. Very glad I had switched to my email as he read over my shoulder a pithy email from Mr Spouse, instead of this post...)

Monday, June 16, 2008

For Someone Special

Okay, I know there have been a lot of blogs about Father's Day and I know it is hard for some people who can't have children or who can't be with their father. But to be honest it completely passes me by. I don't get on brilliantly with my father but not that badly, but I think he'd faint if I sent him a card or even mentioned it. It seems to me like Secretaries' Day or Grandparents' Day or something else made up by Hallmark. Mr Spouse never sent his father a card and I think would rather people shut up about it now his father is gone.

We had originally planned to make Fathers' Day cards at Rainbows this week and the girl who was organising it didn't turn up so we decided to make some cards anyway but first I went round and nosily asked everyone "who's in your family, and who lives in your house" which gave us the opportunity to work out that F lives with her mum and sees her gran and doesn't appear to have either a father or grandfather on the scene, and then to move extremely swiftly on and make a fuss of E who appeared to be telling us they had five bedrooms, one per child and one for Mum & Dad, but according to J in fact they only have a boys' bedroom and a girls' bedroom. F made two cards, one for mum and one for Nana; new girl S made one for her little brother even though she lives with her dad. So we were all diverse and happy.

The 14-year-old helpers were shocked that I didn't send my father a card. Perhaps he is, after all, sitting there wishing I would?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tired and emotional

... and not just because of the Pimms I've just been drinking.

Today's session was quite draining, not just because it was all day on a Saturday. I won't go into too many details, partly because the very first thing we had stressed to us was confidentiality, but also because, really, you may not want to hear it. The first part was on working with parents and the (huge variety of) social workers we will encounter. I kind of knew there were a lot of social workers out there, from my mother who used to teach children who'd been excluded from school, and who had a couple of children ask "so, who's your social worker?" - in their world, everyone has one...

We had a very interesting chat at lunchtime - the chief social worker (she's in charge in our district, I think) suggested we might like to go for respite and short term caring, rather than just respite, as we'd probably get more out of placements, and we wouldn't need to do more than respite initially. Respite fits in with full time work but if we were to have children full time, especially younger than secondary school age, at least one of us would need to work part time. I can't see myself asking for part time hours just now, but it's something I've been thinking about, and Mr Spouse I think would also be happy with working slightly less than full time, in whatever he ends up doing in the future (itself not entirely sure). But if we are approved for both we could change tracks without reapproval.

The afternoon was the harrowing part - about abuse and neglect - not just harrowing in itself but because I started remembering all about A, the boy who lived with me when I was living overseas (see here). I remember being asked at the time if I was angry with his father or with the boys who likely abused him- and that's definitely an issue that we would be asked to face with some fostered children. I'm not sure if I'm really not angry with them (well, it's hard to be angry with his father as he was pretty pathetic) or if I was just getting on with caring for him and avoiding the issue. Some of the things that were suggested to us as reactions to children's inappropriate behaviour made me think, OK, yes, I did handle that well. Others made me realise that (probably because I was, erm, completely untrained and unprepared) I could have done something differently.

I never really finished the story about A, but there have been a few new things since I last wrote about him. I kind of feel I've closed the book on him, though I'd be happy to hear from him now of course. He finished school and got a couple of IGCSEs (the i is for International not Internet!) with pretty poor grades, but when last heard of had a job - probably thanks to his reasonable English. His behaviour was still a bit erratic but perhaps not quite as poor as when I knew him, but he is now past his teenage years and I know even for young people who have awful behaviour becoming an adult can sort things out a bit. I am less worried he is actually going to die and I think he has a little HIV awareness - and if he had become infected when he was a child I think he'd be at least quite sick by now. I know this sounds very morbid but I've had to face this.

Gosh - I didn't mean to get into that - it must be the Pimms. I am going to go and see what's for dinner (I have a feeling the answer is, whatever I make... as Mr Spouse is watching very boring important football. Just to annoy him I think Beans will be on the menu).

Anyway, where would an infertility blog be without TMI, so I'll leave you with this. Don't wear white trousers before CD7. Especially if you are on a break and checked your Persona this morning and it said "go for it!".

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Me again...

So last night's session was also non-scary and dealt with Loss and also with Discrimination though these were linked. There are bits of material the social workers leading the group are given and you get the impression they get through these particular parts because they have to (and they aren't that comfortable using Powerpoint anyway), and then there are activities and discussions that are partly from their manual and partly not, which are a lot more rewarding.

I realised between writing that and coming back to finish this that the session could potentially have included lots of talking about losses we had experienced - since most of the potential foster carers have children of their own (apart from two adult children who have come along for the ride - 18 and 20 - and one young woman who is preparing to be a respite foster carer for her parents - 28), it is unlikely that anyone would have the same kinds of losses we've had. Though one couple I think have just the one 18-year-old so you never know. But anyway, we didn't have to "share" or anything like that.

Instead we talked about culture, race, discrimination, and losing things from your background/past/culture. I think some of it didn't really touch some people at all (if you have never lived anywhere but where you grew up, you don't know what it's like not to have it any more); some people had really interesting insights (one Northern Irish person and one who pointed out sectarianism also exists in our region - especially in Liverpool); and some thought it was all a bit PC ("why are we pretending to be gay?"). So, if we have foster kids we've to give them chip butties and let them watch telly all day, and the person who thought there were lots of gay people in high powered positions has to let the boys wear fairy outfits.

Onwards and upwards

So we now move into two months of Not Trying To, or to be more strictly accurate, Trying Not To. We have agreed on a slightly dodgy use of the Persona, namely, if we wish to be friendly on red days we will use protection, even though it tells you this is Risky, we do not really feel recent lack of success puts us in a high category of Risky.

I'm putting a positive spin on this for myself which is so far not working too badly: I can drink all I want, and all the coffee I want - which isn't that much, and I never really abstain from caffeine anyway, just try to keep it down to a cup a day, more so that withdrawal isn't too bad if I need to. (And - forgot to say this earlier - I am being a rebel on my vitamins. I think I'll find a general women's vitamin and take that as it probably will have things you can't take in pregnancy - just hate seeing the Mum To Be vitamins in the drawer).

I am also going to continue with my efforts to lose weight. At least if I started a pregnancy weighing less there would be less to lose and it would be marginally less depressing if I ended up on the sofa stuffing my face with chocolate again. And I do think being fitter has helped me get pregnant in the past - 2 of my pregnancies were when I was running and one when I was training for a long bike ride.

I've actually not been doing too badly on that - I am cycling to work at least twice a week (it is 9 hilly miles a day, people, hope you are impressed), swimming once most weeks, and concentrating a lot harder on my eating habits (I'm getting quite into Paul McKenna, which Mr Spouse teases me about no end - "I Can Make Myself Rich!") and I've lost 4lb over the last month, bringing my BMI down to just under 29.

Another post later on our foster care evening yesterday, but for now I need lunch, and Paul says eat when you are hungry. So I am following instructions.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Why do I do this to myself?

Period due today or tomorrow (most of my recent cycles have been 29 days but my breasts were sore very early 2 weeks ago so possibly today). Decided that as we're taking two months off and I had a FR test which expires next month, why not use it.

This of course causes me to wake up extra early and lie there being anxious. If I get up and test, will I be able to go back to sleep? If I don't get up and test, will I be able to go back to sleep? Are my stomach cramps due to complete inactivity in my digestive system (see, symptom spotting), the apricots I ate yesterday to ease that, or my period about to start? If I get up and test, will it wake Mr Spouse? If I tell him I'm testing, will he worry needlessly too?

So (comedy of errors begins here) I get up and pee into a specimen bottle we have in the medicine cabinet (don't ask). Go back to bed and still can't sleep. Get up and very quietly retrieve test from drawer. Dip in bottle and it is negative of course. Realise am also likely to wake Mr Spouse if I put the test box back in the drawer so decide to conceal it in spare room (his dressing room) in box of spare sheets which is on the table. Go back to bed and sleep, thankfully.

After Mr Spouse has left for work, get up and shower etc., still very tired, decide to retrieve test box and put in bin. Box of spare sheets no longer on table. Mr Spouse has tidied it away. Look under first sheet - not there. Look under second sheet - not there. Now I know it's not exactly healthy to conceal these things from one's husband, but I know he knows I do more tests than I tell him about and I know he worries just as much as me so I might as well just have one of us worrying. Look a bit harder - box still there. Box now in bin.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Neither a bang nor a whimper...

Which sounds like the end of something, but really was the start of our foster care course. It is a standard course used by a lot of local authorities, I won't go into masses of detail but it's not really restricted content as far as I'm aware.

The first evening, last night, was neither very exciting nor very scary, but in some ways quite reassuring. The content was very introductory, I was in fact left wanting more which is I suppose the point! The group seemed OK, mainly slightly quiet and unsure like we were, apart from one man who was loud and unsure (so Mr Spouse didn't have to tell me off for talking more than anyone else). I'm trying to play down the "I'm a child psychologist" but I've already had one person (a childminder, so also with lots of relevant experience) say "ooh, you'll be really good at this, it's all about psychology".

She probably does know what kind of psychology I do as she'll have done a lot on child development in her vocational training, and yes, I know both in theory and in practice about how to promote preschoolers' development, how to support primary age children in difficult tasks, and how to deal with a tantrum (at least, ignoring has never let me down yet!). But older children acting out, violent teenagers, depressed 10-year-olds, not so much - no more than anyone else with a small amount of common sense. And I think that's what most people mean by "child psychology".

So we felt fairly positive, and not too scared, at the end of the evening. I finally confessed to my mother what we are doing and she "thinks we are mad" but anyway, hopefully she'll be charmed round in the end - or just stay out of the way.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Of all the unusual ways to be blindsided by a pregnancy....

Item: Phil & Teds double buggy
Info: my 2nd baby is due in november, and my little boy will be 13m old.

(this is from our local equivalent which operates a little differently; but this is someone I know who is a student - we all thought the first one was likely to have been unplanned - as far as I know she gets no maternity pay so I'm not sure she can really have thought a second would be a good idea just now!)