Thursday, October 29, 2009

Speaking of me kittehs....

I used to think that teeny tiny kittens had the monopoly on fluffy cuteness until our two grew up. Here's some seriously cute kitteh video footage. Warning: this contains some disturbingly incestuous tongue action between two litter mates.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The ice breaker

When we moved five years ago to the town we currently live in, we knew nobody here. I had never lived in a small town before. I grew up in the country, where everyone seems to be a distant cousin of their neighbour and the postman knows what you had for breakfast. From there I moved on to university life in Galway, a small city in the West of Ireland. College life is the easiest time to make friends because everyone is up for partying and meeting new people.

After that I lived in the UK for a short stint, on the outskirts of London, and from there I moved to Dublin. Dublin is an easy place for a country person (or culchie, as the Dubs like to call us) to make friends, as there are enclaves in Dublin, mainly around the Dublin 6 area, inhabited by culchies in their twenties and early thirties. Working in any large organisation in Dublin, you will easily make more friends from outside of Dublin than Dubs. It's a sense of all being in the same boat which fosters a certain cameraderie.

So it was a bit of a culture shock to say the least, when I moved down the the arse end of Tipperary, to a town with a population of around 7,500. Work colleagues my age were people local to the area, who had never really lived anywhere too far from home, so they had their own lives, family units and social circles well established, and had no interest in meeting new people. My sister had moved to a town outside of Dublin in the mid 90s, and she always said what broke the ice for her was her kids. She struck up friendships with women at mother and toddler groups, or even just striking up conversations with other pram pushing Mammys when she went out for a walk. Once her girls started school, she made new friends at the school gates. So all in all, when you move to a new town, kids are the ultimate ice breaker.

So what happens when the kids just don't come along and you're living in a small town? Well we were lucky enough to meet a younger crowd of people through my work. Mainly professionals in their mid twenties to early thirties, these people were blow ins just like us. Unfortunately, now that the plant has downsized hugely, most of these people have moved on, and we are getting back to square one. I often go out for a walk during the day, and I notice how the women with babies and toddlers in buggies tend to stop and talk to each other. I often wonder will I ever be part of that.

One day when the sun was shining last week, I pulled on my runners and set off to walk the three mile round path that starts at the end of our estate. I had borrowed a cat carrier from my vet a few days previously when I was bringing the fur babies in to get microchipped. Since the vet's surgery is only a ten minute walk away and it was on my route, I grabbed the cat carrier on my way out the door since I was going to be passing the way. As usual, I met a few mothers and babies along the way, and I just smiled and nodded hello at them.

Then as I walked along, a lady came up to me and the following conversation ensued:
"Ah, are you bringing your cat to the vet?".
"No, just returning a carrier I borrowed to bring them the other day".
"Are they ok now?"
"No, they weren't sick, I just took them in to get chipped"
"I'm up and down to the vet the whole time with my two, they're getting very old. How many have you?"
"I have two, but they're only four, so they're fairly healthy apart from the odd eye infection or war wounds"
"I don't know what I'll do when mine are gone, you get so used to them around the house don't you?"
"I know, I dread the thoughts of anything happening them, you just get so attached"
"Ah sure they'll be fine, they're only young yet"

And with that, we went our seperate ways, me with a smile on my face. So you see, kids aren't the only icebreakers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

International pregnancy and infant loss awareness day


I did not die young
I lived my span of life,
Within your body
And within your love.

There are many
Who have lived long lives
And have not been loved as me.

If you would honor me
Then speak my name
And number me among your family.

If you would honor me.
Then strive to live in love
For in that love, I live.

Never ever doubt
That we will meet again.

Until that happy day,
I will grow with God
And wait for you.

by Christy Kenneally

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why don't you just.....?

This is a topic that had been done to death on message boards and infertility blogs, but it's a bugbear of mine these days, since many people have thrown this question at me.

Why don't you just adopt?

Or, the more sensitive version, have you considered adoption as a possibility?

The more sensitive version I can answer in a calm manner, and I usually get a reasonable response. So I say "no, it's not where we are at for the moment" or "no, we've talked about it and just don't think it's for us". To which the enquirer usually says, "fair enough, it's not for everyone". End of discussion.

On the other hand the "why don't you *just* adopt?" people really rub me up the wrong way. When I give the same response as above, they usually look at me aghast, and ask in wide eyed terms "why ever not?". Recently someone (a mother herself) said this to me, followed by "but those Chinese babies are just soooo cute, I'd love one". To which I replied "Well if you're so keen on them yourself, away with you to China".

It's the word *just* that really gets on my wick. It's not as if there's a special on babies and children at your local Tesco this week. What gets me is that people who have never been faced with involuntary childlessness have no idea what the adoption process is like in this country. A work colleague of mine who was going down the adoption route gave me a brief overview a while back. Basically, in Ireland, domestic adoption is almost unheard of these days. Nobody, or very few, are giving newborns up for adoption. There might be two or three babies a year who come up for adoption, but as the waiting list of couples is several hundred names long, the chances are between slim and nil. As for adopting older children, this doesn't really happen in Ireland either. Social services are reluctant to take children away from the family unit on a permanent basis. So while there may be a large number of children and teens in foster care, these children rarely become available for adoption.

So the only other option is overseas adoption. I don't know a huge amount about this, having never gone down that road, but I do know that it takes a very long time between initiating the process and bringing your new son or daughter home. At least five to six years on average. So if we were to start the process now, we would be in our mid to late forties before we could expect to become parents. Up until recently, a large amount of overseas adoptions were from Vietnam. From what I can gather from internet boards, Vietnam is now closed to prospective adoptions by Irish couples due to international laws.

From what I have read on parenting message boards, it's a very emotionally fraught process, and not an inexpensive one. Also, when you live in a rural location which is not particularly multi cultural, as we eventually will, you are facing a whole other set of issues. I read a thread on one site the other day where a mother was asking others in the same situation how do you deal with instrusive remarks and questions. She said someone came up to her in a supermarket when she was with her adopted Chinese daughter, and asked her straight out how much she paid for her. Enough said.

The other thing that really irks me is when infertility and associated treatments come up as a topic of discussion on mainstream internet sites. Invariably someone will wade in with a comment along the lines that why do these infertiles think they are so special that they have to have children with their own DNA? And that IVF should be banned until all the orphans and abandoned children in the world are adopted. And that the world's population is far too large as it is without bringing more people into it. I shy away from getting into these arguments, as they have a tendancy to raise my blood pressure, but I always wonder about the people who make these comments. Have they children of their own? Are they biological or adopted? Or if they haven't yet gone down the road of starting a family, are they going to consider adoption as their first option in family building rather than trying to conceive a biological child? After all, our planet is over populated, why leave it to the infertiles to pick up the slack? Let's ban natural conception until all orphans and abandoned children have been adopted!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From the archives

The only baby photo of me that I know of, taken when I was over a year old.

Deep in conversation with my faithful friend Scottie the sheepdog, age 3 (me age 3, not Scottie!)

School portrait photo, age 4 or so (wasn't I a lil cutie?)

Incidentally, me age 36. I really must change my hairstyle one of these decades.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lapped again

This weekend three years ago we went to a wedding of friends of ours in France. We conceived for the first time on that weekend away, but lost our baby at just over seven weeks. The newly married couple had their first baby just a few days shy of their first wedding anniversary. I've followed her progress on Facebook for the past two years. She's an absolute cutey, with big brown eyes just like her Dad.

This week I noticed a new photo on her Dad's profile. It was the birth tag from the hospital announcing the details of their new baby daughter. We didn't even know they were expecting again. I logged onto Facebook just now, and there are two new albums. One for Julie's second birthday and one for newborn Marie.

And here we still are, standing still while all around us friends' lives move on. I need a stiff drink.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's simple, black puddings.

Those of you on the other side of the Atlantic might not be aware that Ireland voted yes to ratify the Lisbon Treaty last Friday. In the run up to the referendum, the Vote No side were mounting a campaign based on ever increasingly nonsensical slogans. Some genius in I think Trinity College Dublin developed this little gem, the Vote No poster generator. Just click on the "Click here, receive poster" line for some excellent reasons to vote no to Lisbon. Pure comedy gold!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Headin' Wesht

We seem to be constantly on the road these days attending family birthday celebrations. It was Dublin two weeks ago, Cork last weekend and this weekend we are heading to Mayo for my nephew's 21st party. My parents' and my brother's house are already booked out with visitors/party goers, so I decided to treat ourselves and book into the new hotel in the town where the party is being held.

It just so happens that I will probably be ovulating within the next 24-36 hours. So if I do get preggers this month (which I seriously doubt, but sure you never know your luck), and we were to take a leaf out of the Beckhams' book and name our first born after the place s/he was conceived, then we would to saying hello to little baby Kiltimagh in nine months time. Nice ring to it, don't you think?

As it so happens, Kiltimagh's most famous son is music mogul and X Factor judge Louis Walsh. My nephew (the birthday boy) plays in a band with his nephews. These guys are in no way your usual musical fodder of the Louis Walsh stable. No crooning poof boy band stuff for these dudes. It's more Dad Rock for them, Led Zep, Hendrix, Doors, with a bit of Arctic Monkeys and Talking Heads thrown in. I'm rather proud of them really. So let's hope when they're headlining in Slane in ten years' time, they remember all their ould Aunties and Uncles.