Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making history

I surely must be the only person in the world who picked up their very first prescription of the contraceptive pill (progesterone only, to see if it suits me before trying the implant), and varifocals, on the same day.

I should hasten to add that I only need the close work section of the glasses when I am wearing the distance glasses, which were recently upgraded to enable me to actually see the leaves on the trees - I don't need them with my contact lenses in, which is what I wear most of the time, and I don't need them without my glasses on. I'm not that bad!

In other news, it turns out TMI friend has quite short cycles (I know you don't want to know that but I don't either, so you're just going to have to read this with your eyes closed) which slightly explains why we get the I that is TM every five minutes. I will stop posting about her. Until I get really annoyed again. I should hide her, but it's like a car crash - you can't stop looking.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And another woe is me

I feel I have lost my home in the foro/blogo/yahoo-sphere. I am it is true heavily reliant on this form of social networking to make me believe I still exist.

I am no longer trying to get pregnant, and no longer getting pregnant though infrequently, and no longer going through the monthly cycle of disappointment, or the annual cycle of short or slightly longer pregnancies followed by miscarriages.

I'm also no longer in the preparation or pre-approval, home study stage of adoption - which takes quite a while in the UK, and which is worth chatting about. And I can't get advice from other UK approved adopters since the matching process is so different. Perhaps if we had a match, I could ask about some of the issues other approved adopters ask about (drugs, genetic conditions, that kind of thing) but to be honest, I trust my own research more than anyone else's.

Yet we're not quite in the waiting stage, when I could be in more or less the same position as other waiting US domestic adopters, except, anywhere I don't have quite enough anonymity, I wouldn't want to reveal that we aren't quite in the same position. And still, such things as asking for advice or discussing agencies would require me to disclose more about our position than I'm comfortable with. In fact, since our paperwork still hasn't reached Official Hague Person, we aren't even in the same position as people we should be in the same position as. Also, we can't attend groups such as waiting adopters' support groups. So that feels a little lonely too.

We did print out our final version of our profile for Nice Little Agency and it is ready to mail; we think perhaps after Christmas to avoid getting trapped with all the cards and parcels in the snow. If you saw that post, you'll know our profile includes a lovely shot of us sitting in the park in the snow. A lovely fiction, I thought at the time, since we live in a fairly warm and rainy part of England, by the coast.

But lo! and it shall snow buckets, and more buckets, and not quite as many buckets here as in Scotland, which is a good thing, and it shall be veritably pretty for Christmas.

A conundrum

I started writing this for some practical advice but it's turning in to more of a "woe is me", but in any case, if you do have any practical advice, please do share.

We decided we'd have a small New Year's event, really just 6 or 8 people including us, our spacious abode has room for about 5 or 6 to stay over, and we invited some people from out of town plus about 8 or 10 couples locally including a few with kids - we can't put up all the families with kids but we're very happy for any of them to crash out on our numerous spare beds if they are happy to bring them.



One couple who are really close friends said yes initially and because of that we invited most of the rest (including some that know the original couple quite well) and one other friend who's on her own said yes. Then the original couple changed their plans.



Now I've had to remind absolutely everyone about twice to actually respond and they are all saying no except this original single friend.


And I'm feeling really down about this because I just hate it when people know they are busy and it's a big-ish event but they don't bother telling you. So now I'm feeling really awful, as if these people think "oh, how can they possibly think we'd want to go to them for New Year's Eve? they must be joking, we'd never go to them in a million years, they must realise that, so there's no point in replying because it must be obvious we have better plans already."

The alternatives are of course that they got the invitation and thought "well, maybe, if nothing better comes up, let's hold on and see." Or that they thought "let's ask around mutual friends, oh, they aren't going, no, we won't bother either."

And I'm particularly irritated with the late response from one family who I am pretty sure we invited in November, who are quite numerous so have prevented us from asking other out-of-town guests until they refused.

One couple still say they are thinking about it (the husband hasn't been well I think) and two further couples haven't replied. If all of those came, it would be a good mix, and if just one of the couples came, I think it would be worth holding the party. I can think of a couple of work colleagues who would mix well in a crowd but I wouldn't ask them if it was a small party. And the colleagues in question have ignored or refused previous invitations from me, so are either very busy or also hate me.

If just one of the couples who haven't replied did end up coming, it would be fine (there would be five of us, enough for dinner and a few low-key games). I am not quite sure about one of the pairs, who are a bit of an unknown quantity, but either of the other two would mix well with our single guest. But I really don't know what to do if no-one replies or everyone else refuses. I now feel I'm letting down the single friend as well. She's not a huge party person and I know she wouldn't expect a giant event, she is aware it will be a select few, but is it worth bothering if it's just her and us??

Oh and in other news - the TMI F*eB*k friend now has taken to posting every two weeks, this time to say "not much chance of my longed-for Christmas present". Do we assume she's just experienced a chill in the bedroom department or is this code for "there's something more seriously wrong but for once I don't want to tell you all about it"?

There are a couple of mutual friends who I know have been through much longer struggles to have a family who are trying to encourage her (and very restrained too, I'd bop her on the head) but one at least has some very weird spiritual ideas so I'm sitting on my hands not emailing her to say "get a grip, no you are not going to get pregnant within 6 months and likewise saying this airy fairy prayer is not going to get you pregnant either, come back to me and I'll hold your hand when you have some idea of reality".

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just had to share...

The first is probably NSFW, but is a hilarious offshoot of those Awkward Family Photos:

Awkward Pregnancy Photos

The second is just perfect, thoughtful as well as funny. Though it could do with more paperwork in the pictures:

Metaphorical Pregnancy Photos

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Don't faint...

Another post.

I am undergoing one of my periodic "I hate my job" moments. I like the subject matter, but hate the medium. It wouldn't be much better elsewhere (and anywhere better in quality terms wouldn't have me, and would be more stressful). I have always thought that I might do something different for the last 10 years of my working life - coincidentally this is what Mr Spouse is doing now, retraining with about 10 years of work left to go.

Originally, probably when I thought I would not get married or have children of my own, I considered moving into school teaching, probably with cute primary school children. I am pretty sure that would drive me bananas, now (not least because of the administration involved). I have no idea what else I would do, but it is an appealing prospect. I am pretty sure I wouldn't go into journalism full time, but you never know. Mr Spouse pointed out that anything I did that which involved leaving work, at work, would also involve getting to work on time, every day. That knocks that one out of the window, then.

I never thought I'd say this

but I have been to the doctor to talk about c*ontrac*ptive choices. Unlike various other doctors, she thought we were being very sensible to avoid a pregnancy at the moment, and didn't say anything fluffy bunny like "well, getting pregnant would just be a happy accident, wouldn't it?" (genuine quote from doctor).

It looks like the implant. Good for the 6-18 months or so minimum before placement and then feeling like it's time to try again, less hassle than taking a pill (she'd give me the combined pill or the mini pill but like I say, less hassle), less painful than a coil. I'm to call one of the other GPs for an appointment when I've read the leaflet.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's like a car crash...

The F**eb**k friend, that is. She's posted that she's "excited" which, hot on the heels of the last update, let's see, which of these friends' comments is more likely to be accurate:

a) "because you can open your advent calendar tomorrow????

b) Did Aunt Flo finally go missing?

I can't stop looking!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Too much information?

I have a friend who got married in the summer, after several years of public "I would so like to be married" followed by public "I'm so in love with him". There has also been a lot of "oh everyone's babies are so gorgeous, I can't wait to have one".

While it's possible of course that she has a medical condition she is keeping quiet about, I wasn't quite sure how to respond when she had a F*ceB**k update today of "AB thinks it is a very disappointing time of the month." Even if she and The Husband started trying the minute they got together, that is only just over a year. And knowing her, that is quite unlikely, and they were not living in the same city for most of that time.

So, in lieu of a comment along the lines of "pull yourself together, you can complain when it's been 7 years, but until then, we don't want to know the contents of your underpants", I posted a link to Julie's hilarious post.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's me...

you thought I'd gone into a hole in the ground? or you hadn't noticed I wasn't here?

Anyway my so-called life has been grinding me down in a variety of directions, some good but just damn busy (planning a Brownie sleepover and some extra taster sessions in schools, starting playing in a new orchestra, knitting some Christmas presents), some just plain busy (most of my teaching for the year in the first few weeks of term, but leading to a knock-on effect of mental paralysis, fighting a few fires, and now a rather major administrative job for the end of term), but some a bit confidence-destroying.

In some areas it takes very little to knock my confidence and anyone else in academia will know that horrendous comments on your writing style are par for the course. In fact, one refreshing thing about my media experience was that (especially since it is usually face to face) people are usually quite relaxed and even flattering about your writing. It was suggested that I could do some freelance work and this week I finally submitted all my paperwork, and suggested a story - and felt very deflated not to get any response at all. I've been feeling like a bit of an underachiever anyway, and this was all it took to make me feel a bit despairing.

I've been bottling it up and Mr Spouse was having an irritating time with what I call "his chums" and he calls "the wastes of space" (the students on his course who he's been allocated to work on a project with) so I hadn't really talked about my work issues. But I thankfully got it off my chest yesterday and, though I was going to write about that earlier, we had another chat about another issue which I also feel i need to put down.

I am very fed up of our current contraceptive choice and am also feeling like I would like to have some hope still of maybe trying to have a biological child, even just to feel that door is not completely closed, so I suggested perhaps we could ditch the protection for the moment. He is very much not happy about that. Part of it is worrying about the adoption process and wether another miscarriage would disrupt it, what we'd do if I got pregnant again, would we put things on hold, or what. But I really had not realised how strongly he felt about my state of mind after the miscarriages - he says particularly after the last one.

We talked quite a bit today and it does bring back feelings for me quite strongly. I feel it was really, really horrible but I survived. But he says it may have been more frightening for him, outside, than for me (and of course he was very sad too). I am coming round to the idea that I will not have a much greater chance of getting pregnant this year/next year than in maybe 1-2 years' time when we have a baby in the house. And I think Mr Spouse is probably right that a loss then would make me much less sad, that I would have something to live for.

That last phrase sounds awful. I think you all, and he, know that I was never that bad. Perhaps something to get up in the morning for is more accurate. But although actually, I am doing OK, I'm going to stop typing now because I'm feeling a little sad.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Possibly of interest

to someone other than me, anyway.

I was geekily looking up NICE regulations on infertility and apparently they are going to be updated to reflect new research on IUI, types of IVF etc. Details here.

Of slightly greater interest is the fact that National Adoption Week has just ended. I did not particularly feel like linking to anything I'd read, though it was nice to see more about it in the news than usual. I am left though with the feeling that I (and possibly Mr Spouse) are quite thick-skinned or unobservant, or perhaps lucky, as we've had far fewer insensitive or just plain mad comments from social workers, members of the general public, and friends, than a lot of people seem to have had.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm actually quite glad...

...that trick-or-treating plus associated tat is taking off with a vengeance in the UK. My brother and I suffered as children with a mother who insisted on celebrating it when our friends were either carving pumpkins, dressing up a guy, or saying "eh? what?". But (when Mr Spouse overcomes his Bah Humbug tendencies) we'll be able to do it with ours.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Gosh

I haven't done the someone-else's post for a while, and I was trying to do it on Fridays, and it's not quite Friday any more*, but I just read this, and well, just, gosh.

What a dilemma.

*I joined a community music group which will lead, when I've practiced a bit more, to playing in an orchestra on Saturday mornings, though I'm rubbish at the moment. It meets at 9am on Saturday. Not a typo. It is on half-term break tomorrow. I am hoping I actually sleep in!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Unawares

I've had a bit of a manic week (our term only just started but it started with about 1/4 of my teaching for the year in the same week, the next 1/4 is this coming week and the rest spread out over the rest of the year, basically) and while I had plenty of countdowns on Facebook I somehow missed that Friday was Pregnancy/Infant Loss Awareness Day until I read May's blog.

I was at church this morning on my own (Mr Spouse really needs to learn not to say "ooh let's have a curry" and then vastly overconsume...), and the service sheet was sponsored by an older couple we have got to know a little, but who've never had family with them in the services. We assumed they had no children or other family but it turns out they had a son - who died about 15 years ago, at the age of 23 - on 15th October.

I lit a candle for him at the end of the service, and thought about it afterwards. I'm hoping we will get to have a baptism for our child in this church, but I don't want that to mean we never acknowledge our other children. A few years ago we sponsored some Easter lilies in memory of one (I think - it may have been more recent than that) and, which was fine with me, Mr Spouse didn't add our names/reason to the list (you can be public, or not, usually the lilies are in memory of someone and we all know that there is a cloud of unspoken names around them). I have a feeling he doesn't want to dwell on remembering them. He knows I get sad sometimes and he does too, but he doesn't want to look at our sole pair of scan pictures, and he doesn't want to go to the local infant loss and miscarriage service again. So i don't know how he'd feel about remembering our other babies as part of a baptism service.

Moving on to marginally more jolly topics. I am feeling a tad left out at work. There is a crowd of about 4 or 5 colleagues who are all slightly newer than me, one of whom I work very closely with, I actually feel I carry her a little but I also know she's had a hard time so I give her a lot of slack, we buy each other coffee when we're team teaching, she is part of this crowd. One of the group invited us to a housewarming (though has since moved, but with a new baby so I doubt the housewarming was repeated!), and one to a birthday a couple of years ago, but I've missed a couple of birthdays through being away over the summer (I was actually feeling even MORE left out but realised that I wouldn't have been around when all these parties were happening).

We have a small circle of friends here, very small in fact, and I often feel a little isolated. But I would also like to get to know these particular colleagues (except, unfortunately, the one I teach with) because they would be great collaborators. I've tried to approach them for both work collaborations and just to be friendly, and we've never really got beyond superficial conversations in both directions (and I know I can be rather overwhelmed at work, and I can show it, and that can't really make people too enthusiastic about collaborating with me, frankly).

As none of these people are really new, I can't offer to "show them round", I guess it's hard to get to know someone better when you realise you missed your chance the first time - but that's what I'd quite like to do.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh dear

Forumsville.

There is a certain adoption message board in the UK (and you won't have to search too hard to find it).
The majority of children who have been adopted are those that have been abused and/or neglected, with a smaller number removed before any abuse could happen, but some of those having been drug exposed.

I get that.

I also get that we are likely to be in a very different situation.

It's just the attitude, not particularly to birth parents (and there are many posters who can be very balanced in that respect) but to contact. From those saying "what's the point of direct contact when a child was removed at birth, they won't have a relationship to continue, and that's the point of contact", to those saying "really you should not think about a relinquished child from the same town, what if members of the birth family - shock horror - saw the baby in the street"... anyway you get the picture.

I am going to have a chat to Mr Spouse about this but I also wonder whether to mention this to our social worker if/when we see her again. Of course there are other adoptive parents who are positive about contact with birth family (even if it's for preventive means, as when a 9 year old will be rational about their birth family being at best exceedingly flaky while a teenager will turn all drama queen and want to go and live with them again).

I just feel like I (completely inexperienced, not even an adopter yet) want to go on a mass re-education campaign. And I know I'm really enthusiastic, and gung ho, converts are the most irritating preachers, but still...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Not an issue yet, but...

I've just been reading Heather's post about the words and phrases we use. Both Nice Little Agency and Official Hague Person use the terms "birth mother" and "birth parents", though I may have spotted a couple of "expectant parents" thrown in the mix, and I don't recall them using "our" or "your".**

The OHP also got us to change a couple of "our child" to "a child" in our profile though it didn't seem very consistent, as in, I felt it was OK to say "we are looking forward to taking our child to the playground" though they didn't, except they didn't get us to change it every time, and obviously we would say "we would like to adopt a child", but there are grey areas and they seemed to pick up on some but not all of these.

We have not yet had our profile read through and edited by NLA themselves but they place shortened versions on their website. While we cannot control the words they use when talking to expectant parents, each letter starts "Dear birthparent". Most of the stories from adoptive parents say "our birthmother".

So... advice please... what should we do? We can obviously write our own profile and I don't think they are going to tell us "No! Say Birthmother!" but what about the bits they edit in? And what about the impression that the whole thing gives, though (erm) I suppose we might appear more aware if we are the only ones not saying "Dear birth parents" in our profile??!

**yes, they have Expectant Parents right on the front web page for the agency. Good.

Friday, October 01, 2010

My spidey senses are twitching

Was out last night for a birthday of a friend - she has just turned 36 and her man is 8 and a half years younger (NOT NINE she says firmly), and two of her friends who I've got to know a bit better recently were there. One of them I assumed was early 30s, recently married, but it turns out she's 39, married 7 years. And gets irritated by babies on planes...

I was on the brink of sharing about adoption (friend whose birthday it is knows, but not many details) as we were talking about my nieces being dressed in scary 1970s pinafores by my mum (I must take a picture of the patterns she has hoarded, they are truly frightening). But I thought better of it.

While I do know people who absolutely don't want kids (which is I think less common in the UK than in the US, I think it's more common here as we are an indecisive nation, to be on the fence and fall the way nature takes you), usually I find as it is relatively uncommon here they are quite strident not just about irritating kids or parents but about their own wishes.

The birthday friend has said she'd happily get married tomorrow but has mainly expressed satisfaction at being an aunt for the moment. I know the new friend has siblings but I think she's the oldest and her younger sister is single. Their parents live locally so perhaps they have managed to dial down the "where are our grandchildren" nagging, which gets wearing I imagine if you don't want them, just as it does if you want them but can't have them.

So I'm curious now, is this a "don't want kids and find parents and babies irritating" or a "wanted them and don't think we'll have them now, so find parents and babies irritating."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Smug

When I am a parent I will not:
Write down every single day from birth to six months (and longer) exactly what time my child slept, fed, and filled his nappy, carrying a notebook round for the purpose, and pondering spreadsheets were I more computer literate.
Blame my houseguests for waking the baby, half an hour after they go to the loo, and thence causing him to cry for 90 minutes.
Tell my friends that "all children who go to nursery hit other children, and I don't want my child getting attached to a childminder instead of me, I heard Oliver James say it on the radio so it must be right."

Nor will I:
Keep the two-year-old up when we have dinner guests, not just until dinner is served at 8 (admittedly only half an hour after the dinner guests arrived) but until he starts to rub his eyes at 10.15 pm, requiring the dinner guests who have to leave at 10.30 to play with toy trains for the evening, and to be very careful with crystal wine glasses and hot drinks, rather than having adult conversation.

Nor indeed will I:
Keep the four-year-old and the six-year-old up until 11pm, claiming that there is no evidence children need more sleep than adults. Or shout at the six-year-old's aunt (who researches children's language for a living, but that's not a proper science) for using letter sounds rather than letter names when reading to her, but then when she cannot learn to read, request Jolly Phonics as a gift.

And finally I will not:
Assume my child's Brownie leader is psychic and able to intuit whether their child wants to come back to meetings in the new school year, without any replies to texts, emails, phone calls or letters.

Of course you know I'll do all those irritating things, and more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I don't normally do this..

OK, I do some lazy posting by picking nice posts from other people, but this is a great bit of news:

Florida lifts ban on gay people adopting.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How really very nice

Another pick of the week - I'm reading this story in installments, and feel really happy that Fernando and Robbie have had A Good Day.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

How I got here from there

It's feast or famine around here, I'm afraid.

When I was a young adult, I mixed with the wrong sort of people. People who told me that it was wrong to be gay, that it wasn't what God wanted, and that something had gone wrong in the world for there to be people who were attracted to those of the same gender.

I hope I'm accurately reporting my feelings at the time in saying I never quite bought it. I am pretty sure I only realised I knew gay people when I got to university, but generally thought it was "okay" so long as the "rules" were being followed. There's a certain school of thought that if you think everyone should be celibate outside marriage, this applies to those who cannot get married (to someone of the opposite sex) too - like some who choose or are called to be celibate as a vocation.

I now realise that this was a lot to do with sour grapes. I wasn't in a relationship for many many years (and the ones I had didn't get very far off the ground), but didn't feel "called" to celibacy, so I didn't see why other people shouldn't also be celibate unwillingly. Now I am with Mr. Spouse and if someone turned round and told us we couldn't be together legally - well frankly, sod off. Sod right off.

And we are one of those unnatural couples who cannot reproduce, but long to be parents. So when a furore broke over some Catholic adoption agencies closing down rather than allowing gay couples to sign up, I was pleased that at the time we were considering adopting through the one such agency that encouraged gay couples to apply (our social worker says she is not sure they were really that open, but their literature seems fairly balanced).

But these are relatively "advanced" rights. If you are unfortunate enough to live in a repressive society, yes, it's horrible that it is like that, but you do learn to tread carefully. If you want to educate your daughter, or not wear Islamic dress, or publish anti-Government articles, in some countries you also have to proceed carefully, enlist overseas help, and not make a song and dance about it. So, having lived in a country where it is not legal to be gay, but I have not heard of any prosecutions, and knew friends who had underground boyfriends (if, er, you know what I mean), I assumed it was a case of softly, softly, changee laws.

But it is not just an issue of whether you can kiss your boyfriend in a bar, marry him, or adopt children. It's an issue of people's lives. This documentary has filming in two of the places I've worked in recently, and is really scary. It's the kind of situation where you feel like you need to do something, or hit someone. Preferably someone pretending to be a Christian.

So, by coincidence, we had the chance to hear a talk on the issue at Greenbelt. We only went for the day, which is an odd way to do a festival, and it meant we didn't get into any music, but it's more of a talk and arts festival anyway. And getting the last train back to London - was how I ended up talking to Peter Tatchell on a station at about 10pm last Saturday. Despite appearances in the media, he is very temperate and softly spoken. A real eye-opener.

Tourists

We've been in London for nearly 4 weeks over the summer and although we have had quite a bit of boring stuff to do with our rental flat to sort out, we've been taking full advantage of the capital. I have a feeling that Mr Spouse has actually seen every single museum in the city. He went to the Clockmaker's Museum the other day. Seriously. I on the other hand have actually had to do some work, but have managed to get out a bit.

Yesterday we went to Oxford (OK, not in London!) to meet up with my mother, brother, and two nieces. Probably by dint of keeping off sticky topics, we had a really good day. We went to a museum that has been newly done up and has lots of great drawers for kids to pull out, things for them to handle etc. The girls are now 4 and 61/2 and were really good all day I thought - the younger one even stopped throwing gravel in the goldfish pond in the Botanic Gardens when I told her to.

My mother regaled me with my brother's latest idea, which is that children don't need any more sleep than adults, which means you can put them to bed at 11pm and they will be fine the next day. Sometimes when my mother moans about my brother (or to my brother) I will sympathise with one or other of them, but I'm staying out of it this time, I muttered something non-committal to my mum, and I suspect my brother won't moan about my mum (this is less frequent but it does happen) because he doesn't when he knows she's right or that I'll agree with her.

Anyway, enough waffle, what I also thought was that I hope we end up with a similar relationship to our child's birth parents to my auntie relationship with the nieces - living in a different country but visiting relatively often, they know me and remember who I am (and happily have done so since they were small) and think of me as a fun relative who will take them out and do fun things, but who they do have to listen to when I am in sole charge. And I give irritating advice which brother and sister-in-law are free to ignore.

OK, back to the original subject. As you may or may not know, Oxford is where I studied as a postgrad, and on the whole had an excellent time (immature male postgrads who share a house with you and bring back ever-younger one-night-stands, notwithstanding), and made some of my best and oldest friends. I used my imagine-yourself-where-you-want-to-be technnique to remember pubs with outdoor space for dinner, and thought of one I spent rather too many hours in - but was slightly embarassed therefore to walk straight past the entrance to the alley the pub is on. In a former life I am sure I could have found my way there in my sleep.

Today unusually rather than me saying "let's go OUT" and Mr. Spouse saying "I'm tired" we reversed roles; he took me to Camden Lock Market which astonishingly I have never been to. Cannot think how that happened. Anyway I bought a clocket, because I am a fashion victim, and tried on two or three winter tunics, and bought one. Mr. Spouse tried, but didn't quite manage, to tell me I was too short and fat to wear one of them. But the one I bought was a lot less fussy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The money trail

We know that NLA has received our full application... because they've cashed our check/que! (it wasn't a very big one...)

We also got an email from the notary here to say he is ready to send the paperwork round the endless trail of government bodies that need to see it before it arrives in the US with OHP. After it arrives, I think we'll be legally clear to look for a family in OHP's state but not in NLA's, until they are sure our home study is as full as they'd like. We have been having a mini-Kafka moment with NLA and our UK social worker where NLA wanted our addresses for the last 10 years, the UK crowd had verified the last 5 years, NLA wouldn't take our word for the intervening 5, so we emailed the addresses to our UK SW who emailed them to NLA...

Anyone got a handy brick wall?

Friday, August 27, 2010

This week's favourite

Just lovely - from A Nickel's Worth of Common Sense.

Down the rabbit hole

I am unashamedly addicted to blogs, at least to reading (and also to procrastinating boring work jobs while writing - I should currently be making up some titles for some people who are giving talks at a one-day event, who haven't given me titles, and I should also be reformatting a variable list. ZZZZZZZ). I don't comment as much as I could, but I'm also slightly handicapped by still not having found a good blog feed reader that works on my phone (no, it is not an iPhone thank you).

I found when I was doing my last bit of journo stuff however that I read loads and loads of sciencey blogs (hooray!) but no regular blogs. So, if you were hoping for me to read your blog in the next couple of weeks - sorry. We just arrived in London and I'm doing another two weeks of pretending to be a journalist, starting on Tuesday.

I have however found a few new blogs recently. There are a lot of adoption blogs out there but a very large majority of them seem to be written by US married mothers who adopted domestic infants, many of them in semi-open adoptions. I've been looking around for some different ones, and have found:

LindyLoodles - UK, waiting for a match
Looking for Moonpiglet - UK, pre-approval
From Husband to Father - UK, pre-approval
The Johnsons - also UK, also pre-approval
(some or all of these are people who I found through Adoption UK)


A Nickel's Worth of Common Sense
- Canada (I am pretty sure), open adoption from foster care/birth children/what is called "permanent guardianship" in the UK (I am in awe of this woman, she has six kids at home and still finds time to write!)
Think Bubbles - when I say this is a real life friend of mine, well, erm yes she is but we both met her through t'internet! Anyway she has two teenage sons adopted from foster care, sadly things did not turn out well for no 1 son.
Two Guys Adopting - another blogger I am in total awe of - these guys have a son adopted from foster care, and one of them writes extremely detailed posts about every single day with their son!

Lia, Not Juno - expecting a boy and talking about placing him - has recently moved to Wordpress - I am toying with the idea of doing the same*
Statistically Impossible - a birth father in an open adoption

Anyway I may or may not be "around", though I do have a meet lined up with another London blogger, unless she stands me up... no I'll understand really (sobs into hanky...)

*I did have a spell of weird comments a while back but went over to no-anon-posting and now it's mainly spam - but Blogger have sorted out their spam comments. So as I seem to be under the radar for people who want to sound off, I may just stick here for the moment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In which we become slightly less poor

I have to fill in a US tax return - it doesn't do me any good or bad as I neither pay US taxes nor am entitled to a rebate, but it's a legal requirement, and they get snippy when I want to go back to the US, if I'm not up to date on them. Occasionally they have a Federal cash handout. I get these too, even if I haven't paid any taxes. This year, Mr Spouse got one as well, as he did his taxes last year!

The US government, unlike some others I might mention (*cough* the UK *cough*) actually encourages people to adopt - to the tune of $13K tax rebate.

They've just changed the rules so you don't actually have to pay the $13k before you claim it back. It's really to encourage people who wouldn't have paid that much in tax because they don't earn much - I'm not quite sure if our US taxes per year would reach that but over the five years you can spread it, if we did pay them, we'd easily pay that. But now we can claim it anyway!

I suspect there are 2 1/2 people to whom this applies, so it's not like we're going to bankrupt Obama. But it will be jolly nice to have a small amount back. Actually, it will be "back" since I paid them in the distant past.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Living space: choice, privilege, right?

This post was inspired by a post of A+A's, about living small. I like what they are doing, it is great to be in a neighbourhood where you can see a lot of people, and which is diverse. I feel lucky that we live about 2 streets away from our area's main Muslim community and that I can be part of a mixed women's group and that I know some of the members well enough to have a lengthy chat when I see them in the street and even to pop round and say hello. But we live in a large Victorian house that you can see in my previous post.

I'm lucky enough that I was able to buy somewhere when I lived in London and Mr Spouse had a house when he moved here as well. We joked that we had to look around a while before we found somewhere cheap enough. But actually it is fairly cheap to live here and on two salaries, we'd have been able to afford this place even without much of a deposit. We had to buy extra furniture (we didn't have a dining table or crockery storage, and we have an upstairs study/sitting area that needed a sofa) and we had the kitchen redone plus lots of cosmetic decoration.

I come from a privileged background, there is no denying it. My grandfather in the UK had a huge house - it had a spare flat that, if it wasn't rented out or lived in by the cleaner and her family, was a play space for us grandchildren (mind you, my grandfather had 5 children separated by 30 years). My grandparents in the US had a smaller one-storey building but set in gorgeous California land. We grew up in a Regency house on four floors. My parents had to put in heating, a floor in the basement, I suspect an inside toilet, but it was also somewhat spacious. We did learn to be frugal in what posessions we needed when we lived abroad for a couple of periods when I was a child but that was by choice and also a result of privelege - my dad was also an academic and was on sabbatical. My brother and I thought of these as an adventure and both I and my mother have always prided ourselves on packing light (yes, really!).

I love living in older houses, but before we moved here, the last time Mr Spouse lived in an older house was when he was 7 and their back-to-back (think East is East, bath in kitchen, no I am not joking) was condemned. They had had a bit of space there, and moving into their two-bedroom high rise he had to give away his train set. This was his pride and joy - he had his picture in a local paper with this train set. Small living was probably not high on his list of things that made him happy. I got to go back to my toys and my own bedroom after our years away.

They lived in the flats (think opening credits of Shameless, I think I have already said that!) until they got fed up of having the upstairs neighbours' baths overflow into their living room. Then they moved to the 26th floor in another block, but that was condemned (think famous flats in London that collapsed). They did move back to a two-up, two-down rented place but then Mr Spouse bought a one bedroom flat - the first person in his family to own property - and his parents were moved by their social housing landlord into a different one-bed as they didn't need the space.

So... do you aim to live small, do you feel this is a positive thing, or a luxury? Do you like living near, and knowing, your neighbours? How close is too close? Or are you happily indulgent and will take any space you can get, and would a mile away not be too far for your neighbours?

I think we are just about right where we are - I have always lived in a town and as a real inner city dweller Mr Spouse would not be happy anywhere isolated - one of his stipulations is being able to walk to at least a basic shop and to services so you don't have to drive to the doctor's when you are too sick to drive. But unless you are very lucky, even in those halcyon days (note tongue firmly in cheek) of Victorian terraces and all the kids playing in the street, neighbours can turn into noisy neighbours, irritating neighbours, and nuisance neighbours.

And you even get that in rambling middle class neighbourhoods - I'm reminded of the bad beginning piano playing of our neighbours when I was growing up. Still, my brother learned the trumpet. We got our own back!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Yes I know this is a bit lazy...

But life is like that. Anyway, this is a great post, and Martin, you'll be sorely missed (especially for the dreadful jokes).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sorry but I have to share this...

This picture was taken by a professional photographer at the children's Christmas party run by the factory Mr Spouse's dad worked in, circa 1961. If you squint at my previous post, or if you are a FB friend, you'll be able to work out he's the kid with dark hair and his head in his hand. We think they are watching a magician. Note Vimto bottles. Very Hulton Picture Library, don't you think?



I'm not sure if this is lazy or what...

But I'd like to try and start doing a "someone else's post of the week". Kind of like Creme de la Creme, only smaller.
I've just read this post of Bernardeena's and it was so well written, I just had to share.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Colour me confused

We are in a bit of a go-between situation between Official Hague Person and Nice Little Agency. Here's crossing our fingers that Nice Little Agency decides it's not too complicated to get accredited should we ever want to adopt again.

Anyway, we've got lots and lots and lots of cheesy pictures, we've sent them off to both sets of people, and we are resisting both OHP and NLA's efforts to start all our profile/letter statements with "dear birth parents" as, erm, they aren't yet (in fact likely they haven't given birth yet as well as not having relinquished any children). Though I think OHP were right to tell us not to write "our" child as obviously he/she is not our child.

NLA have earned various gold stars for trying to avoid extra expenditure and being very flexible, they are very happy for documentation going to them to be sent with (and therefore notarised with and therefore not charged extra for) documentation going to OHP. I panicked for a bit today thinking we'd have to have (and therefore pay for) another social worker visit but they say a letter from our regular social worker will do nicely.

Anyway I just thought I'd regale you with exciting tales of paperwork, and show you page 1 of our profile. Excuse flab in my picture at the bottom, and sorry it's a bit blurry - converting from Publisher to PDF to JPG obviously loses something:




Friday, July 30, 2010

I thought it was quiet...

but it's not that quiet. I am still very confused by Google Analytics, which I moved to after I found I couldn't use statcounter any more (and I can't remember why that was). But Google Analytics says I had no visitors in July at all. Which, er, isn't true.

Anyone got any better hints and tips? It's not that it's broken entirely as it says my other blog had a couple of July visitors.

What I Did On My Holidays

An installment here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Professionals

This is from the Open Adoption Roundtable #18.

We are obviously not in an open adoption yet but have had interactions with lots of social workers - all of whom are in principle very keen on openness. But fully open adoptions with birth/adoptive parent directed meetings between both sets of parents and children are rare in the UK. Because most adoptions are from foster care the most common forms of openness are either letter contact, supervised and often quite tense birth parent visits, or self-arranged and relaxed visits with siblings or extended family members.

I get the impression the social workers are a little surprised we are so on board about openness - in fact I think they have been, probably quite wisely, preparing us for less openness than we'd be comfortable with. Practically speaking, we're never going to have a weekly visit, drop-in-when-you-want, first day of school and every birthday type of relationship. But we'd be happy (other things being equal) with regular visits with us and birth parent(s) without any agency/social worker involvement.

Our social worker is, I think, assuming that we'd actually have more contact with extended family (e.g.organised maternal grandparents who might have been a possible choice for raising a child, where one issue with a birth parent might be a lack of a permanent home). Oddly, though I imagine this might be a possibility, I can also envisage an opposite scenario, for example a birth parent who has not told their own parents that they have a child, so that we might meet them without being allowed to meet grandparents. This would be hugely unusual in the UK - and I think more UK adopters would have direct contact with extended family - so it's going to take some explaining to our UK social workers if we end up in that type of situation.

OK, now I have your open adoption attention - I need a quick bit of advice. We're just working on our profile, and I have put:
"We think it is very important for our child to know their biological family.

Because Dr Spouse’s mom’s family are from the US, she visited her grandparents there every summer when she was a child. We hope we will be able to take our child back to the US often to get to know their biological family."

Sooo.... I asked around and was told (not by a professional) that perhaps we should hold off on mentioning our hopes for openness, in the profile, in case it was read by expectant parents who were less interested in openness than us.

Now, if we had a link with expectant parents who wanted ongoing letter contact and were open to talking about in-person contact - then I think we'd be OK with that. Because from other people, I know that even if we set up to have ongoing in-person contact we might end up back in a letter contact, discussing in-person contact, situation anyway if circumstances changed.

So, what are people's opinions? Better not to mention our hopes in our profile, and speak about them in person? Or mention the most we'd be able to cope with (we think) and risk putting someone off who would rather have less?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HELLO

Sorry for the silence, but I'm not getting many real comments anyway so I'm not sure if people are just reading and going "meh" or not reading.

I'm in the middle of my media placement and it is such fun but very time-consuming - more because I've got a few urgent day job things to keep on top of in the evenings than because it's really such hard work. I can't really do anything toooo hard for the radio people in case I mess it up! And we are in London, having a nice break from real life, and I've just been to a conference (with digital recorder and fancy mike in tow, and having done a few fancy interviews, well, I thought they were fancy).

Now many of my regular readers know of the good ways to make your period start. I know I shouldn't be complaining having had two ridiculously short cycles, but at the weekend it was over 5 weeks and it was getting a bit ridiculous. We had (mainly) been careful and I was (fairly) sure I had ovulated late but I was trying the usual things. Wearing white knickers, going on a really long journey, and I even thought I was in the final approach when I had a migraine (looking back, it's been about 1 every 3 cycles on the final day or so). But no. It was getting so long that even Mr Spouse was getting anxious.

For the first time ever it was him who suggested getting a test and me who didn't want to. But of course it worked perfectly. Test on Sat afternoon and period started before I went to bed that night.

And, you know, I'm so busy with work, adoption paperwork, doing our profile, that to be frank, I really, really didn't feel disappointed.

Sometimes I amaze myself.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Just lovely



We've had a week away in a part of Greece that I knew absolutely nothing about until Mr Spouse told me - his cousin lives there. It was too short but I know we'll be back.

I was an au pair about 20 years ago in Rhodes and although it is lovely there, it is a lot hotter than here and - even though I was with the family and not doing many touristy things - it was really touristy even then, lots of "resorts", and I'm sure it's a lot busier now. This week we've been on Thassos (no, I'd not heard of it either) and over to Kavala, on the mainland, which is where the cousin lives with his wife and (when he's not at university in the UK) their son.

Thassos is a charter destination and we decided it would be a lot easier to do it as a package - Mr Spouse came independently previously - but we've got the typical 7 nights hotel, bed and breakfast and foraging for gorgeous food in the evenings. It's the kind of destination which attracts couples like us (over 25 and no kids) though most of the tourists aren't British - there are quite a few Germans, who tend to drive here, and a lot of Romanians and Bulgarians - it's just over the border from Bulgaria and a couple of hundred km from Istanbul.

It's also really popular with Greek families (it's a lot cooler than most other places and has nice sandy beaches) so seems to be a lay-on-the-beach holiday for most. That's not really our thing and the island is 100km round and the highest point is as high as Snowdon, so you won't really be surprised we headed up into the hills a couple of times for short walks. There is a mad lady who goes round and spray paints route marks onto rocks and trees and has written a little book. We didn't make it all the way up to the top... though we had planned to go on a jeep tour, it absolutely poured with rain the night before so the tour was cancelled. Several of the tours available were cheesy beyond words but it is the kind of place that you can drift from cafe to cafe (I'm very fond of Greek coffee), sample the pastries, read by the pool, and generally chill out.

Probably because of my exposure to home-cooked Greek food, I adore it, and we don't get very much of it in the North of England (some Turkish, and the same in London, where there is some Greek food, but it's not quite the same, plus I know the Greek words for it rather than the Turkish). I had some peaches the other day that were, seriously, the most peachy peaches I have EVER tasted in my life - including peaches in SoCal and in the south of France and in Spain.

The city where Cousin Spouse lives is apparently the largest seaside city in Greece - as I say, completely off my radar and indeed everyone I have spoken to about the trip. It is ripe for the city-break picking, I'd say. Unfortunately the only direct UK (and other N. European country) flights are weekly charters - not ideal for weekends - but you can go via Athens or I think some other choices. Easyjet are missing a trick. You've got gorgeous ocean views, steep rambling historic streets (though some of the historic buildings are a little hidden), harbourside restaurants, a bit of light shopping (there's Max Mara, Zara, and a street market that Primark-lovers would drool over, which also has olives, herbs, flowers, and a load of gorgeous fruit and veg you couldn't really get in the suitcase); Thassos itself is famous for olives and honey.

It's not what you'd call unspoilt as it is a big city with its own life and sadly - state of the economy and that - lots of empty shops - but we haven't seen or done everything by any means. We didn't venture inland but hiring a car and pootling round a huge set of ancient sights should be on the agenda at some point (heard of Philipi? did you know Drama was a place?). It's very historic in itself - a Byzantine aqueduct, as well as Roman/Ottoman/I can't remember ruins - it has a couple of small museums but typically they were "under renovation" - but the new museum on Thassos was pretty fabulous, so we didn't feel hard done by to miss that.

Cousin Spouse and his wife are lovely - he is very good value, full of stories, she is quite quiet and I felt a bit bad that she was always getting things for us, though I do know this is fairly typically Greek and even when I was "staff" people would get things for me, "people" especially meaning "women". We took a couple of group photos to prove for the adoption profile that Mr Spouse does have some family and I can't help feeling a little relieved that Mr Spouse looks younger than Cousin Spouse, even though he's 5 years older. We've been working on our profile and browsing other people's profiles and thinking we might play down a little the "we-are-always-travelling" angle as it can come across that couples don't have time to have kids - but it should be nice to show that the cousins live in a gorgeous Mediterranean city.

Anyway last night tonight and we're going back to the best restaurant of the week (there's always one we say 'got to go back there') for the mixed meze.






Friday, July 09, 2010

Just a quickie

Still on holiday - we're trying to get free tickets for a Prom that go on "sale" today and I'm currently number 400-and-something in a queue - hope you all like the new look.

Greek food/mountains/sea/weather all very acceptable (though Greek weather isn't all sun and clear skies - who'd have thought it - certainly not me as I spent a summer as a mistreated au pair in Southern Greece and I'm currently in Northern Greece). In London next week, then away for a week, then back in London for a further two weeks, in case anyone fancies getting together for a blog meetup. What's a blog meet, a bleet?


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pieces of paper no 4

Oh yes - forgot about this - form from what is now the Department for Education to ask who is our notary (and I have lost the quote from Experienced But Distant Notary so we are having to go with Local Notary) and who is our agency overseas. That will be piece no 19.

Still working on the agency form but making photos a priority. Appointment to pretend our neighbour's cot is ours at 6pm.

I had something else... oh yes. In typical husband fashion, Mr Spouse now says that he has always said that he is fine with saying we'll hope to adopt a child who is either white or Hispanic* - which is not actually my memory of the conversation, but whatever.

*and I have recently discovered this is not actually an ethnic classification on the new US census but it is there on the agency form. So.

Spinning

The wheels, my head, something.

We're off on Saturday for a week's holiday and then I have the first part of my Being Slightly Famous placement, plus a conference. So I won't be back here for 5 weeks.

This creates lots of last-minute tasks, though it's a bit easier to plan to be away from the office for about 4 or 5 weeks than to suddenly find oneself landed on ones back with a broken shoulder and no way to pick up the pieces for 6 weeks (like last summer).

At the forefront of my mind is however a very important issue - what to pack. Last summer the weather was mainly rotten and I could only wear a very limited range of clothing - I remember some agonising changing room sessions trying to put on front-buttoning blouses. So I've, erm, splurged a bit this year (though the post office are getting very used to me sending back returns, too). But I can't fit it all in the one and a half cases I'm allowed! I'm reduced to standing in front of my wardrobe gazing longingly at brand new, over the head, dresses.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Too much information?

This is from Open Adoption Roundtable no 17 - which asks:

Are there any things that you don’t want the other members of your triad to know—or that you don’t want to know about them? I’ve heard first mothers talk about not sharing their birth stories with adoptive parents because those are for the adoptees and for themselves only. I've also heard of adoptees concealing their reunions from adoptive parents so as not to cause them pain. What don’t you want shared in your adoptive relationships?
We don't have our adoption yet but one of the things I've thought about a lot is how much to share with future children about our miscarriages. And if we have an open relationship with our child's biological parent(s) then this is something we'll need to share, or decide not to/how much to share with them. Plus we'll need to talk, I assume, with any expectant parents who are considering placing with us, about why we don't have biological children (and I've just read A+A's post).

Although I am very much for openness with children it's also not surprisingly something I find very upsetting to talk about. I think I'm more wary of making a child feel responsible for our happiness - in the sense of making us feel better when talking about something major and upsetting, rather than in the sense of having "made our lives complete". And I actively avoid talking about miscarriage with pregnant women - even though I often feel they are oblivious and complacent.

Though I did recently become Grumpy Old Woman when someone was ranting about how "everyone in the past used to X when pregnant, what's with all this crazy new medical advice". Yes, I said - and they lost babies. That's why the medical advice. I don't always try and spare people's feelings.

The other side to the story that isn't really mine to tell completely but which is very relevant, is some of the circumstances behind A and my fostering him. I can share that he came to us under very random and upsetting circumstances and that I had to find another placement for him and how difficult and sad that was for me. But I can't share all the things that have happened to him, or some of the things he may have done. And if I share exactly how he's done, recently, well it doesn't sound like a major success story - but compared to the alternative, it is.



Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cheating

It is a beautiful day and we are thinking of photos, of our house and of us, for our "hello we are lovely people please think of placing your baby with us" letter, which I don't like calling a "dear birthparent" letter. Profile. That's the word.

We have decorated our back bedroom in a child-friendly style but we don't have any appropriate furniture - we are working on it being less of a dumping ground though we have loads of toys. One of my colleagues lives on our street and has two under-4s so, since I have to tell her some time that we're adopting, I thought I'd ask her for the rather unusual favour of borrowing a cot.

We spent quite a while discussing the whole adoption process - she knew a bit from our mutual colleagues S & M who are the ones who adopted from Central America - I didn't go into the horrible history of our miscarriages, and she did make the usual "now you'll get pregnant" joke though she wasn't offended when I said "it's not funny when you've heard it 50 times!".

Their cot is not really very portable - but she had a bright idea - we're going to bring some props and photograph it in situ. Happily the lower part of their nursery walls are the same as our back bedroom so I feel a little Photoshopping coming on...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

US 1, England 1

Well, something like that. You've got to make it topical, haven't you?

We had a long phone call with a lawyer tonight - quite productive and reassuring - though of course now we have more homework.

I'm in the middle of cutting out some red-eye from some pictures of us with the nieces, and then going to have an initial look at the form for the lawyer. We'd like to work with another agency as well though they recommend doing some networking ourselves. I am not quite so sure about that but I suppose it gives me something to do. I have a large number of contacts in the US of course (just looking down my Facebook list) and some of them are just the kind of people to hand out letters for us.

I've put Mr Spouse on to finding us a notary and picking more photos...

I am relieved to hear that: we don't have to do more than one application form (they will forward all our information to the other agency); we don't have to do a new home study (updating the home study seems to just involve a letter from our agency here saying nothing has changed/we've got a new cat/Mr Spouse has finished his course); we probably have to find one new referee but already have a candidate; we probably have all our other paperwork in order.

Later - I've got to page 12 out of 23 and am flagging...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Because it's there...

I avoid Mother's Day and we don't really do Father's Day but there are some lovely posts I've been reading today:

Cheese and Beans got some beer and camped out on the school field.

Mr Luna seems to be walking very, very slowly.

A is a great dad and has a great father-in-law too.

Production not Reproduction is thinking about a blank space on a birth certificate, and some other fathers, some absent, some not.

My favourite non-adoption Dad, Daddy Types, got a hand-painted mug.

I didn't ask Mr S what he thought of Father's Day (we don't do it, as I say, he didn't do it when his dad was alive so I know it is not particularly sad for him) but today, he worked out, is Bring Your Screaming Toddlers To The Supermarket Day. I told him he can take ours when we have one.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I hate skinny doctors

I guess it should have given me a clue that this particular GP has loads of spaces.

So - and I suppose this is marginally logical - I'm either having much, much shorter cycles getting shorter all the time (26 days going down to 22 days going down to 12 days) or I'm having slightly shorter cycles (or randomly fluctuating cycles) with mid-cycle bleeding. Or, of course, I'm having completely random cycles. And, since I've only had one 12-day interval, we don't yet know which it is. What happens next is probably worth recording, and I'm to go back and see her in 3 months' time if it's still screwy.

Oh, and could I be pregnant? Well, technically, perhaps I WAS pregnant but do I want to know if I had another miscarriage? But it wouldn't be a disaster if I was? Well, not a disaster, but we know where pregnancy goes for me, and we're in the middle of adopting. So it wouldn't be a disaster?

Clearly someone who has no idea of the process of adoption in the UK (though to be fair we were a bit blase about getting pregnant during adoption a couple of years ago, although for us it was mainly because we thought it wouldn't happen).

So, shall we do a pregnancy test? Well, no, because I'm clearly not pregnant any more EVEN IF I EVER WAS.

Well, if you are bleeding in the middle of your cycles, we'd want to worry about that, but I'm not going to tell you why. But if you just have reeely reeely short cycles that's OK (is it? not OK with me thanks!). Not much we can do about it - we could put you on the mini pill but that tends to cause spotting. But you're over 35 and then there's your weight... so we shouldn't really put you on the combined pill.

Now maybe I look completely HUGE to this woman (estimated BMI about 18). But I am actually no longer obese, I may still be in the overweight bracket but I'm damn fit and I'm 2 stone lighter than I was when someone said that to me before (aged 35 and about 2 months). And the next doctor who saw me took one look at me and said "erm, overcautious much? you'd be fine". And she didn't even BLOOMIN' WEIGH ME! Do they bring all the skinny GPs in and say "look, if they appear to have eaten any cream cakes recently, or are fatter than you, don't give them the pill".

I didn't actually want to take the combined pill (unless this gets worse and there's no other treatment). But now of course this makes me want to just to spite her.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I'm facing it

CD 12 and more bleeding. I am assuming this is really the beginning of the end, unlike the other times when I thought it was the beginning of the end. Mirena has been mentioned. I don't know what to think. Except to feel a little sad.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flashbacks

I am not normally too bad, but at the moment on the forum I frequent there is a very lengthy thread by/about/to a much-loved poster who is waiting to find out if she is miscarrying. I am repeatedly drawn back to it and yet it is giving me awful flashbacks.

I need a distraction - and the rather sloppily-written paper I'm trying to review isn't helping.

Monday, June 07, 2010

I would dearly like to know what is up ...

(though if you don't feel like examining the contents of my M&S briefs, click away now)

1st observation: my last cycle was 26 days long, much shorter than my normal 28-30, though otherwise normal.

2nd observation: normal fertile CM at a normal point (10-14ish days)

3rd observation: a little bit more, possibly, around 20 days.

4th observation: around 22-23 days, a whole bunch more, but blood-tinged. Have never had that before except bang in the middle of a cycle after a miscarriage

5th observation: day 23, spotting, followed the next day by full bleeding

6th observation: hair-tearing on account of not really wishing to have much, much shorter cycles

7th observation: day 3, the fertile CM is back. Erm, what???!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I've got a notebook and I'm not afraid to use it...

I just bought a shiny new notebook* to use in my new role (over the summer) on my media placement. We had our induction day today; the various interns are going to different papers and media outlets but we all got together today, and chatted about our varied experience with science and the media. Most of us either do a lot already or are very keen about interacting with the media though there is one old codger who was cynical about the value of science and media and who grumbled about how the media "make things up". And who was told off for adding "facts" to a story-writing exercise we were given...

I'm thinking about anonymity. I told most of the other interns about my semi-professional blog and people are very interested and obviously I want readership; I have Web presence both in this pseudonym and also in my real name, with only a few people linking the two. I suppose I can link to that blog from pieces under my real name, but change my posting moniker on there (it doesn't link from there to here, though I've posted a couple of links under the Dr Spouse handle to the other blog).

I really don't want this particular blog public, and especially don't want my family and colleagues finding this (and it would be a complete nightmare if anyone from any of the adoption agencies found it), but I'm keen for readership to be open. It's a poser.

*Paper variety. Lack of electronic variety daily source of woe.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Will not think about it... will not think about it...

My friend whose family emergency prevented us getting together yesterday made it down to see us today. We hadn't seen each other for ages and though we'd been on the phone, it hadn't been for long enough to completely update on the adoption process. We tried to explain as best possible - she is very pragmatic and doesn't faint in horror at the thought of long legal processes nor the thought of becoming parents costing us a lot of money - and Mr Spouse has now become Official Legal Process Explainer and also Official Advocate For Openness in Adoption. Go Mr Spouse!

Anyway, and I think she was going to offer anyway, when she heard how we will have little or no notice of a match and will really not be wanting to buy all our baby stuff months in advance, she offered us her entire loft full of cot/buggy/other baby stuff. I doubt we'll need to buy any newborn clothes either as I gather these all just turn up as gifts left, right and centre. As I mainly have hippy breastfeeding friends, I imagine all we'll need to buy will be a cot mattress, a car seat, and bottles.

But I just said I wasn't going to start thinking about buying baby stuff, didn't I?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Last

Nothing philosophical... but, with a surname that puts me first or second in pretty much every list below about 100 names, I've realised that my blog name actually puts me last in most lists (or near there).

I didn't do it on purpose, but I don't know if it means I get overlooked on blogrolls (especially long ones where people give up by the time they get that far) or in fact if it means people skim the middle and see my link.

It's not such an interesting blog name, anyway - I was thinking of changing it. Don't know what to yet.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What do you do...

about flaky friends?
Some people do just have complicated lives. One of my friends has just let me down on first an arrangement and then its rearrangement. The first time she had got her work weekends wrong (so really shouldn't have made the arrangement at all) but the second time she's had a family disaster (and it only just happened so she didn't know before I just asked her if she was still on).

I try to be sympathetic to those with kids, especially those with kids and complicated family arrangements (this friend is a single mum, though the disaster is not child-related). And a couple of my most flaky friends do not have children - just an inability to organise their diaries (or in some cases even keep one). And, given a couple of rather unpredictable aspects of our lives in recent years (first dominant theme is of course me being pregnant and then not again, several times, and the more recent dominant theme is the increasing, though perhaps now slowed, decline of mother-in-law's grasp on reality), I sometimes feel a bit grumpy at the implication made by many of my friends and acquaintances with children that they are a get-out-of-jail-free card. Any cancelled arrangements that are to do with children are allowable - any other reason is not.

I hope I am not flaky though I have no real perspective on this. I think I used to be semi-flaky when I lived in London and tried to go out a lot - I always ended up saying I'd go out and then getting home and feeling too exhausted to trek back to central London, or else saying I'd go out straight from work and ending up going home instead.

But perhaps this is what my currently flaky friend, and I in the past, have in common - we are/were single. When you are single, your social life revolves around people who do not live in your house - and who you inconvenience more when you let down. If Mr Spouse and I make firm arrangements involving train tickets or films/shows that are paid for, we know we'll keep to them unless something really dire comes up. If we've said "maybe we'll go to the cinema" but something comes up, we tend not to. We can be spontaneous most of the time because, well, he's right there and I tend to know what he's doing.

Where this leaves me - with friend 1 who has a genuinely complicated life, and other friends, who have an inability to manage their diary - is still feeling frustrated, and lacking in someone to go out and play with (this being an event that Mr Spouse doesn't really want to participate in, and besides, he has exams).

Friday, May 21, 2010

An unintended advantage

I've realised, in my attempt to expand my lingerie wardrobe, that I've been the same bra size exactly for about 2 years.

I seem to be doing OK on the eating-what-I-need-and-exercising front but I'm sure not trying to get pregnant is helping. Both in terms of not expanding/losing weight if I actually am pregnant, and then not again, and in terms of too much "must drink now as won't be able to if I am pregnant" and "not pregnant again, hey ho, let's eat chocolate".

Incidentally I ordered a few bra/knicker sets from Bravissimo and M&S - I'm keeping a purple Bravissimo set.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Faint

I actually got my police check back from obscure-African-country no 2. The cost was $25 and there were about $3 in stamps on the envelope. Plus they spent about $3 sending us a letter to tell us the payment format was wrong, a couple of months ago.

Well done, Mr Chief Inspector.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Check

Got our approval from the Decision Maker through the post (a piece of paper, but not one we had to fill in). I see the point in a fair few of the other steps in the process, but this one, erm, NO. If you didn't agree with the decision of the panel, you'd be appealing.

Filled in our form for our Supervising attorney and sent them the first chunk of money (though not by cheque/check). This one was actually electronic but I'll count it as piece of paper no 18.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I must be weird...

...for wanting to wear pretty underwear, but not wanting to wear a thong. All the underwear one seems to be able to buy is either a) boring black, white, or beige cotton, b) has prints or colours that would suit a five-year-old or c) is a thong. Or HUGE. There is a time and a place for power knickers, but I am in the mood for something in a small brief or bikini but in slightly more interesting colours.

And don't even get me started on natural fabrics.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dilemma

Slightly resolved, but frankly, in what other job do you have to pay for your own travel (or indeed pay for your own travel up front on the off-chance you get funding that you won't hear about till you've done the travel)?

My university has no money, sadly the BBC unit I'll be working for has no money (well, it's radio, what do you expect?), I suspect the organisation sponsoring the media fellowships has no money (though I am asking) and the conference organisers have no money.

And, sadly, I have no research money either as we just heard in the last 2 days we didn't get two rather lovely and essential pieces of research funded.

Now I have to tell the very nice conference organiser that I can't come to the conference even though they've bent over backwards to organise a special session for me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Limp

After what was one of my busiest weeks in recent memory (a day out with our Christian/Muslim women's group on Saturday, a short walk up a hill on Sunday morning and Brownie madness on Sunday night) I spent today having a migraine - and, for the first time, throwing up. On the carpet. And the bathroom floor.

Good practice for Mr Spouse at being a dad, eh?

Friday, May 07, 2010

We have some things...

We have an acceptance on a British Science Association Media Fellowship. I'm going to be spending 6 weeks at the BBC trying to persuade them that psychology is science and that cute recordings of children speaking (courtesy probably of my long-suffering colleagues) make good radio/online clips.

We do not, however, have an MP. We are still waiting to hear.

(Stop press. We do have an MP. A blue one. AGAIN. Gah. Majority of 333 this time. Gah. Why are people silly enough to think that voting Green or Lib Dem - 8,000 of the latter this time - is a good idea in a marginal? Vote Green or Orange, Get Blue).

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Daily Mail Guide to Adoption

I have been hearing some myths around so thought I'd clear a few up... These are things I've heard about adoption in the UK.

(One point to note is that many local authorities ("social services") have very few resources available for assessing adopters. They focus their efforts on front-line child protection and tend to be very slow and look for ways to exclude adopters - because otherwise they'd be looking at 2 years or more in some cases even before prospective adopters can go on a preparation course. But some local authorities place most of their children through charities ("voluntary agencies") and the variety of adopters approved through these agencies is much greater.)

"You can't adopt if you don't own your own home"
Plenty of people who are renting their home adopt children. If you move every 6 months it might not be the most stable situation for a child who has, up till now, moved every 6 weeks.

"Your finances will be scrutinised and you have to earn loads of money".
We had to submit one month's bank statements. They care more about us because we have to be able to afford the fees. You can be on benefits and still adopt.

"You can't adopt if you have a significant health problem".
I think that might be true if you have a life-limiting illness and have little prospect of seeing your child turn 18. Mr Spouse has type 1 diabetes. I have a friend who has an adopted child who has MS. People have adopted post-cancer.

"You can't adopt if you have a history of mental health issues".
As our social worker says, "going to see a therapist is a Good Thing. We like you to get help when you need it". If your mental illness is very very poorly controlled (multiple long stays in hospital) then perhaps not. If you aren't comfortable talking to a professional (the social worker) about your mental illness, it might be better to get more comfortable talking about it to other people before thinking about adopting.

"You can't adopt if you are older".
Some agencies prefer there to be a maximum 45 year gap between the younger partner and any child. From what many second-time adoptive parents have said, this only seems to apply to the first child (I have heard of several situations where a second child, under 5 or even under 2, has been placed with couples of whom the younger was in their 50s). So, if you are in your early 50s (the younger of the partner) you'd be looking at a primary school aged child. Yes, there are situations where you are unlikely to be matched with a preschool child or an under-2.


"Lots of children are given back".
The general rate of disruption for adoptions in the UK is, I think, about 15%. That is not great but most people are on the good side. I've read 30% for adoptions over 5 (most adoptions in the UK are under 5 - the vast majority - the average age is in the 2-4 year age range with about 6 months to a year between placement and adoption - so placement at 12 months to 3y). Our agency's disruption rate is 5% and they mainly place children over 3. Do your homework and find an agency with decent post-adoption support.

"Everyone you have ever met will be police checked, medical checked, and financially checked"
No-one but you and your partner will have any of these checks. The only exception is if you are single and regularly relying on specific family or friends for childcare (and then it's only police checks). I have heard that some social workers ask you not to let your child go on a sleepover if the parents in question haven't been police checked - but I have also heard this has been discontinued even for foster children because otherwise their lives are pretty abnormal. But once your child is adopted, they are YOUR child and you make the decisions.

Social workers do get in touch with former live-in partners and any children not living with you (taking with a pinch of salt anything told them by disgruntled exes). This is because there have been cases of adopters whose former partners could have told them they were violent nutters, had they been asked.

"You can't adopt if you have a criminal record"
You can't adopt if you have a criminal record for offences against children. Doh. Also violence. Doh. Not drugs, speeding, and a huge variety of other things. It is probably better that adopters not be perfect little middle-class couples who've never strayed and have no idea what their child's birth parents' lives could possibly be like. When your child draws a lovely picture of a needle and a syringe it is helpful not to freak out.

"You can't adopt a child of a different ethnicity to yourself and all the children available for adoption are black"
It is true that a disproportionate number of children in care are non-white. But it is not true that no inter-racial adoptions take place in the UK. If you are a white couple who ring up an agency or your local authority and ask about adoption, it will be assumed you want a white child and wouldn't be interested in an inter-racial placement. Some social workers are still a bit iffy about inter-racial placements but they happen and they can be successful if the adopters are properly prepared. Find a different agency or social worker is my advice.

"You can't adopt if your house isn't perfect. You have to spend thousands on renovations before being approved".
Basic safety checks appropriate to the age of the child being placed are needed before placement. It's likely your social worker will run through what might need doing while visiting your home, and that when you are matched with a child their social worker will check you have stair gates/a lock on the liquor cabinet/know a small amount about Facebook (dependent on age).

"You can't adopt if you smoke".
You can't adopt a child who is asthmatic and sensitive to smoke, if you smoke. Doh.

"You can't adopt if you have pets"
Some children ask to be placed with a new mum and dad who have a dog/cat/stick insect. But you have to be prepared for the reaction of the pet to the children and vice versa.

Basically, if you want an under-2-year-old without a significant disability, you will be waiting for ages but you should be able to find an LA that will approve you eventually (though maybe not your local one - in some cases as a matter of policy due to proximity). We didn't want to wait that long. If you are happy to have a 3-year-plus - or a couple of them - you will find VAs are more flexible and quicker. We wanted to have a go at a baby this time - hence our going overseas. We have not been "rejected" by the UK system, though doubtless the Daily Mail would see it that way - we just want to do it differently.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Yes it was today...

...and yes, they said yes. The questions they asked were not quite what we'd been led to expect, and I did have to kind of restrain myself from saying "despite what you've read in the Primal Wound it's not that likely our under-2-month-old will have attachment problems", but they decided super-quickly and the SW rang us almost before we had turned our phones back on.

Obviously she had written in glowing terms about us (because obviously we are super wonderful people) but I do slightly suspect they also feel this might be an "easy" adoption in terms of post-adoption support.

Next up: contacting the lawyer who is likely to oversee the US end, for a rather expensive introductory phone call, and getting lots of documents notarised.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A meme...

My brain was invaded by the not-sleeping monsters last night, and then again this morning (it's good practice for having a kid, right?) so I'm avoiding work. And the lovely May nominated me for this:

The rules: List 10 things that make your day & then give this award to 10 bloggers.

This may be slightly sleep-deprivation influenced, I warn you

  1. Coffee. Serious barrier to thinking about trying to get pregnant again
  2. When my statistics come out right. Especially when they come out righter than they did before I spotted a rogue data point which I have a really good, justifiable reason for excluding
  3. Mr Spouse leaning over and rubbing my back/holding my hand in bed when he knows I need it but wants to sleep himself
  4. 12 small girls (and counting - we had a population increase this week) dressed in yellow and brown
  5. Cake. Especially cupcakes.
  6. Knitting. Virtual knitting is pretty good for helping you sleep, too
  7. Sewing. I have a wifi music player in my sewing attic and can sit for hours pottering away and creating things (some of which I will even wear) listening to audio books.
  8. Trashy TV. The things I like to watch that Mr Spouse doesn't like are currently, Gray's Anatomy, Glee, and The Mentalist.
  9. Facebook. But I don't play games.
  10. The fact that it's just a week till our adoption approval panel.

Some people who also regularly make my day:

  1. Ms Prufrock (and you're right, it is about damn time for some music)
  2. Henry Street
  3. A+A
  4. Little Dragon Fruit
  5. reservado para futura mama (who hasn't posted in a while, and I'm not sure she reads here, but I like her blog)
  6. Goose
  7. Me, Him & Junior
  8. Lindyloodles
  9. Pamplemousse (because we all want to know how she is doing)
  10. Sell Crazy Someplace Else (again quiet for a bit, are you sensing a theme here!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm sure you've all been here

Facebook announcement - X is having a little baby brother or sister in October (so that's end of 1st trimester now, right?). X was present at the scan. Why would you do that??!

What's even more galling is this is a couple that was, for good reason, getting upset about taking a really long time to get pregnant the first time; reading between the lines, there may have been a minor issue that they were unwilling to treat (or even get diagnosed properly; I seem to remember a whisper of MF and a grumpy husband). But age (20-something) and time were on their side; the happily sub-fertile.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wahey

We're going to go and see Peter Kay on Friday - he has some pre-tour charity gigs in a local venue (local to him, fairly local to us).

We actually have tickets to see him in April 2011 which is ages away - and isn't the latest date available - a friend just got tickets for Nov 2011.