Tuesday 30 October 2012

I Am Not Roaring

Morning comes. Jay goes off to work, and I brace myself for the day. I shower and dress and then open their door and get them up.
"Mummy!" they say, and beam at me. I swoop in and kiss them and we all troop downstairs.
That's on a good day.

On a bad day, the yelling starts early, long before Jay has left the house. I am not a morning person and I cannot take yelling before breakfast. I stomp in before I've showered and say "WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?" in my scary angry voice, freaking them out with my scary pre-shower smooshed-up pillow face.

The answer to what is going on here is always the same: a plaintive little voice (Pink) saying "Blue roaring at me". And then I say DOES THAT MAKE IT OKAY FOR YOU TO YELL AT HIM? and she says no and looks sad and then I say BLUE DID YOU ROAR AT PINK? and he hangs his head and says yes and I say YOU BOTH NEED TO SAY SORRY and then they do and I say I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR ANY MORE YELLING OR ROARING FROM THIS ROOM  and then I march into the bathroom and turn the shower on and try not to hear the yelling and roaring, the roaring and yelling that's coming at me through the wall.

It drives me crazy, the way that he needles her and then she takes the bait. They are both half of the problem, but he always, always starts it. I wonder if he's ever going to grow out of it, this need to annoy her with dinosaur impressions in the morning.
An actual picture of Blue in the morning. Not actual size. 
And then a few days ago, I walked into their quiet room after my shower and he grinned at me and said "Mummy, I not roaring!" and you know what? He wasn't, although the temptation was obviously killing him. I gave him a big high-five.

Now he says it all the time, out of the blue. I not roaring! And I say Well done, little guy! and it makes me realise just how much of his effort is taken up with not doing things. Not bouncing on the sofa. Not hitting people. Not touching my phone. No wonder he's always so tired.

And the same goes for me, I guess.

So often, I am feeling bad because of all the good stuff I'm not doing. Like, I'm not answering my emails (really, I'm not) and I'm not cleaning the kitchen (really, I'm really not) but hey! Where's the credit for all the bad stuff I'm not doing either?

For example. At the moment, things feel really difficult and stressful and I am not doing anything useful, at all, ever, but I am NOT eating any more m&ms.
I have NOT killed anybody in my extended family.
I have NOT killed anybody else, either.
I am NOT buying any more bags on ebay this week.
I am NOT getting up from the computer right now to make a batch of caramel popcorn.
I am NOT calling in sick and staying home from work
 and I am NOT using this computer to book a vacation (alone) to the Caribbean or Italy or, well, anywhere.
(How about you? What are you NOT doing?)

All this stuff is as hard for me as Not Roaring is for my little guy. I guess it never ends, does it? So much of being a grown-up, or just of growing up, seems to be about developing self control, about NOT doing all the stuff that my id wants.  I was listening to a radio play recently (because that's how rock'n'roll my life is) and one line that really stuck in my head was beware of the things we do to get by. Beware, I guess, of feeling the emptiness and sadness from the things that go wrong in our lives and becoming the kind of person who loses all self-control and just lets themselves roar, metaphorically speaking. (Or, you know, sometimes literally too).

I probably give myself too many passes on this one. Sometimes I think I just need to grow up.

I go in and wake them up after their nap. (They still nap in the afternoon. So sue me). He looks at me and says again I not roaring, Mummy! and I say I know, I'm so proud of you and I really am. Every minute of every day that he is not roaring, I am proud of him.

And now I find myself thinking it myself, all the time. When they provoke me - when I'm annoyed - when things go wrong - when the cat vomits unexpectedly - when these things happen and when I (rarely) manage to keep my cool, I say it to myself. Hey look, Mummy! You not roaring! and then I high five myself in my mind and then I clean up whatever mess is in front of me.

Things are hard in our house right now, and who knows, they might be about to get harder. But I want to be able to say this more: I Am Not Roaring.

Yes, it's true. I'm aiming for the self control of a three year old.

(High five, Mummy, high five).

Wednesday 24 October 2012

...and that's why I have a headache.

Thanks for those bath flutes, Nanna. No, really.

And: yes, we have a problem with damp in our bathroom, and no, I didn't choose those tiles.

Also, no, I don't really know the words to that song and I have no idea why they demand it so often. I think it's about how girls would be happier if they would wear things that boys like and put on more makeup. I'm so glad my children are learning those important lessons in early childhood. 

And also also: parenthood sure is a weird thing. This is not the first time I've realised it, but it's the first time it's been so literal - in the video that is their life, I really am just the backing singer. I'd probably better get used to it. 

No news from the geneticist. It turns out that they are waiting for a lab to send them a sample of my mother's DNA in order to do a comparison. They have her genetic results from the test she had fifteen years ago, which should be enough, but apparently the whole way they name genes has changed since then and they can't do a conversion because 'we aren't sure where one of the zeros should go'. Awesome. 

I will admit that when I found that out - after phoning the lab - I went straight upstairs to my bright pink bag and grabbed the M&Ms out of there and pretty much inhaled the whole lot. 

Oh, I should probably mention that my mother lives in Australia, and that's where the sample is. 


Actually, I have just - as I was typing this - realised that there is probably a sample of my mother's DNA on the envelope that she used to send us the bath flutes. Maybe I should visit the lab and see if they can sequence her saliva from where she licked the seal. 

No, I don't think so either. 
I really  need to start thinking about something else. Lately, what's been on my mind (probably somewhat inappropriately, to be honest) is the whole are we going to acquire any more children? thing. There is too much swirling around in my head about all that, and I really don't know where to start. I think I might try to sort the issues into compartments and attack them one at a time. Here are my current contenders: 

Capacity (or how being a below-average mother should mean that I get to parent an easy kid)
Destiny (or how I'm trying to figure out the part of the Venn diagram where theology, loss, public opinion and adoption rules intersect)
Fertility (or how I was barely thinking about my actual reproductive system until I saw a nature documentary and realised I was jealous of a seal)
Velocity (or how the feeling of moving forward can trick us into thinking that we are making good decisions)
Responsibility (or how I struggle with reconciling the conflict between our current children's needs and a bigger family. Or maybe it's not a conflict. Is it?)
Doing & Being (or how being the person you want to be - or think you should be - sometimes involves doing a whole lot of stuff you don't really want to do)
Siblings (or how 'To Three or Not To Three' should maybe be 'To Four or Not To Four')

Yeah, okay, now that's in black and white it's really no wonder I haven't done any of that yet. Any suggestions for where to start? 
One more also. I should have said this earlier - I'm so grateful for all the support you have given me over the last few weeks. I'm sorry that I haven't shown  it more, but it really means the world. 

Friday 19 October 2012

Waiting For A Train

Still no mail. One way or the other: ring my doorbell, postman, ring my doorbell.

In the meantime. Here's the thing about living in an urban area:

Everything is right there. Our playgroup is so close we can walk.
However, on the way, we walk right past a strip club.

Also: our favourite park is right next to my favourite café.
However, it is also right next to a prison.

And also: we can go and eat our sandwiches at the train station anytime we like, since it is only about 150 metres from our house.
However, on the way, we cross about six super-dangerous ultra-busy roads. (Okay, two).

That's what we did yesterday, and and I feel like this picture sums up my life right now. Sitting, and watching, and waiting for something to happen.

Ring my doorbell, postman, ring my doorbell.

Monday 15 October 2012


We leafleted the neighbourhood, not really expecting anything. But in the middle of dinner we got a knock on the door and:

My boy is home!!! He's sleeping on my feet right now.  There may not be any fluffy bunnies around here, but I think I forgot that a fluffy kitten is even better.

Many, many hearts for all your sympathy earlier.

Compassion Fatigue

Honestly, I have compassion fatigue just looking at myself in the mirror these days. I'm so bored of being so whiny. I promised myself that I wouldn't post any more doom or gloom here.

But my cat has gone missing.

My beloved, furry, purry, sweet, handsome, hilarious cat that Jay got for me on the same day we applied to adopt. He is my first baby.

I have no idea where he is.

He never, ever, ever ever wanders. He's a homebody, an inside cat, a hungry hungry boy who has never ever missed a meal in the four years we have had him. Now he's missed three. He's been gone more than a day.

If you are a pray-er, please pray for his safe return. If you're a pet owner, you'll understand why.

Saturday 13 October 2012

The Four Week Wait

So, right now I'm in the middle (I think) of the four week wait for my test results from the geneticist. (I talked in detail about these tests here a year ago - here's the link - if you want to know what's going on).

This waiting period has been much harder than I expected. I mean, I knew it wouldn't be fun, but I didn't expect that I would want to bury myself under a pile of sand quite as much as I do. (Out of interest, does anybody else experience this? When I am anxious or sad, I have a really strong physical urge to get underneath something. A table or a duvet or a piano or something. I'm not kidding, and it kind of freaks me out. Generally I just aim for the duvet but this time I kind of want something heavier). (Please don't hate me for admitting that). I guess what I'm saying is that life does not feel very much like a fluffy bunny at the moment. In fact, I would say it is something of a bunny free zone.

Here's where it all went wrong. (Well, it all went wrong the week before, but here's where it went wrong on the day I actually went to have my blood taken). The tests were in Oxford, in a hospital we haven't been to since we got my first set of genetic tests five years ago, and last time we went in a back entrance and really only saw one room. This time, we used a different carpark and went in the main entrance and once we had taken one step inside that hospital it was clear that it is the kind of place where nothing good ever happens.

Giveaway number one. You know how hospitals like to make a bit of extra money these days by selling retail space? I've been inside a fair number of hospitals, and it seems the shopping area usually has a cafe (mediocre) another cafe (truly awful) a gift shop (magazines that nobody wants to read, and sad dusty teddy bears with dead little eyes) and oh, another cafe, even worse than the first two. That's not what this hospital had. Oh no. Next to the obligatory cafe, directly opposite the entrance, was a shop that only sold one thing: wigs. Uh huh. The shop that expects the most customers from the people who frequent this hospital is the I can't help noticing your cancer treatment took away your hair shop.  

 Also. You know how hospitals have those big direction boards with how to get to all the different departments? Well, all the departments in this hospital were the 'oh no, you have to go there' departments. Nobody was getting their hip replaced. Nobody was having a knee operation. Absolutely nobody was having a baby. It was all sad, scared people, walking around in pairs holding tightly to each other's hands. It was really starkly obvious that this was the kind of place where all the patients need to bring their spouses to their appointments for support.  There was a strange, strained atmosphere so yeah, I guess we fit right in.

Eventually we trekked across the silent corridors of misery, got to see the geneticist, and she was super-nice. Really, really super-nice. She said she hardly sees any second-generation testees*, and she'd already been in touch with my mother's geneticist (in Australia - I was suitably impressed) so she knew exactly what gene deletion she was looking for. I think that because I've already had some conversations about the biology behind all this with my mother and cousins, I knew more than most of her patients do when they come for a first test, so she kind of skated quickly over all the basic information and got into the nitty gritty of some of the treatment options. I was glad to find her really knowledgeable, but I'm not really sure that I was ready to go into all the depth that we did - it has been a really big thing for me, deciding that I do want to know about what's going on in my body, whether it's going to try to kill me at some point in the future, and I wasn't really ready to think about 'hmmm, Total Abdominal Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy or just oophorectomy? Mastectomy with no breast reconstruction or mastectomy with reconstruction using stomach fat [that's when she offered me the bonus tummy tuck] or reconstruction using back fat or reconstruction using synthetics?' I have no idea. I don't know. I don't know I don't know I don't know. I don't know. I don't even know if I have the gene yet, so I'm not ready to think about this stuff, but of course now I'm thinking about it all the time.

Then - because of her fascination with my ovaries - she was asking 'so, are you planning to have any children?' and I just laughed, in that wow, this isn't funny at all, why am I laughing**? kind of way and said 'ummmmm, well, we've already sat in this room once before' and she said 'yes, I can see that from your notes' and then I laughed hysterically again and told her we had two adopted children because of our initial trip to the geneticist, five years ago, but that we really had no idea what we might do next (if anything) in terms of more children and she says 'well, if you were to get your ovaries removed...' and frankly, who cares what someone says at the end of a sentence that starts like that? Have I mentioned lately that I'm thirty-three? I'm thirty-three. I do not feel ready to think about getting my ovaries removed. Or my breasts.

And by the way, sometimes I would be tempted to type br3asts instead of breasts, because I want to keep people who are searching for naughty stuff away from my blog. But this time, I'm leaving it there because the horrible men who are trawling the internet looking for naked pictures? Well, I hope they find this post instead of what they were really looking for. Cruising the interwebz for a cheap thrill, boys? Well, I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING FUN READING ABOUT OOPHORECTOMIES.

Also. I know that some people reading this have actually had cancer, and all of us know people who have died because of it. I am very aware that what I'm facing is not actually a diagnosis of anything except for risk. I'm not trying to be a drama queen about all of this. I know that I must sound to some of you like the person who has only been trying to get pregnant for six months and now thinks that they totally get infertility. I realise that I do sound a bit uber-dramatic about this wait, this anxiety, and I guess that's why I took an unintentional break for the last few weeks, waiting for all of this to feel a bit less raw and panicked before I vomited it out here. And actually, I didn't intend to even vomit this much, seeing as how this is supposed to be an adoption blog, but my fingers just seem to keep typing of their own accord. Bad fingers. Bad, bad fingers.

And yeah, I may feel pretty stupid if I get the letter on Monday and it says Negative for the gene mutation, no heightened cancer risk. But I'm pretty sure I can deal with feeling stupid. I can think of worse things than having to type 'guess what, it turns out I'm A-OK' Sometimes I picture myself getting the letter with the results (the one that is supposed to come within four weeks of the appointment) and opening it up and it says NEGATIVE! and then I jump for joy and drink some champagne and then I start to think seriously about saving for retirement, because hey, I might need to do that after all.  But twenty seconds later I wish I hadn't had those thoughts. After all,if I do get good news, I'm sure I'll figure out what to do without having planned the minutiae, and I don't want to have to put those fantasies away. I don't need them. After all, I'm okay with happy surprises.

Bad news, on the other hand - I do have a plan for that. Over the last week or so, I've been collecting a 'bag of treats' that I'm only allowed to open once I've got my letter. I know it's shallow, and trivial, but I wanted to have something shallow and trivial to look forward to during a week that might be really hard (and a month that has already been really hard).  The bag itself is bright pink***, and so far inside it I have:

and to be honest, I feel a little better just thinking about it. I'm also waiting on a mindless girly DVD I ordered from Amazon, and I am ABSOLUTELY taking suggestions for other things that should go inside. What would you put in a bag of treats? (Don't say a puppy, even though that is an awesome idea). The criteria are: entertaining, mindless, fun, not too expensive, able to be enjoyed immediately. And not a puppy.

So anyway, that's me right now. Believe me, I know how boring this is. I will start writing about adoption again soon, I promise, but right now this is eating all of my mind-grapes. I'm so sorry that I owe so many people emails, and that I haven't commented on anything at all lately. I think what I'm really trying to say is:

Normal service will resume shortly. 

*hee hee. That sounds like testes. I was going to find another word, but then I thought this post might as well have some male body parts along with all the female ones. 

**I've been doing a ton of this lately.I was filling in my sister in law on everything that has happened over the last few weeks and I was telling her "and then we had to take Blue to hospital and that was weeks ago and we are all still sick and now I'm waiting to find out whether I'm going get gene linked cancer HA HA HA HA HA!" and a part of me was looking on and thinking 'wow, it's really time to stop laughing Claudia' but it was that or head for the sandpit so, well, what can you do? 

***annoyingly, as far as I can tell, this organisation only exists in the US which kinda stinks for me.