Me and Mine – March 2014

This month’s photo was taken on our family holiday to Center Parcs, where we discovered the amazing invention that is the four-person swing seat!

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Obviously it’s fantastic if you are on your own with two children, since you can sit in the middle and swing them both evenly, rather than trying to alternately push two separate swings.

That was my first thought when saw it. And it hit me in the stomach like a sucker punch. Because it’s not a problem that I have, or am ever very likely to have. And it reminded me just how much has changed since last month.

I do love this photo, and Thomas certainly loved all of us swinging together, infecting even me with his giggles. I see this photo and think of all the fun we had whilst we were away. But when I look at it, I also can’t help but see the empty seat next to Ian.

It’s a bittersweet photo.

But it’s reality too.

dear beautiful

Me and Mine – February 2014

This month’s Me and Mine photo is not, technically, a picture of the three of us. 

Look closely and you’ll see it in my hand: the grainy black and white photograph of my tiny blob of cells. That, and the pregnancy test that told me those cells are still there, growing, changing and becoming a person.

How could I not include that in our photograph for this month? What will hopefully be our second child, and a younger sibling for Thomas. At last. After all the months of trying and waiting and longing, I finally have hope that by the time the final Me and Mine of 2014 rolls around, there really will be four of us in it.

It’s early days, of course. I’m just 4 weeks and 5 days pregnant today. So much can go wrong. But so much can go right too. And as I explained here, I want to celebrate the fact that we’ve got this far, even if we get no further. I want to remember how this felt – and if you see the grins on our faces in this picture, you’ll get some idea. We’re over the moon!

So here it is. Me and Mine and our future family too.

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dear beautiful

Me and Mine – January 2014

As so often before, I’m late with my Me and Mine contribution for January.  But as always, I believe it’s better late than never – especially since, having only managed to join in eight out of twelve times last year, I’m determined to do better this year!

I’m hoping against hope that this year will be the one in which our family will grow from three to four, and if it happens I know that I’ll really appreciate having documented the changes as they occur. In relation to that hope, January has been a month full of appointments and anxious waiting. I’m conscious that our “family time” has been eroded by hours spent in a fertility clinic where children are, for obvious reasons, not particularly welcome. And at other times I’ll admit that my mind has been preoccupied with thoughts of fertility treatment – sperm, eggs, scans and tests. (If you haven’t read my posts this week about our infertility journey (here and here) can I suggest that you take a look and please consider reading and sharing.)

I’ve been afraid that I’m not being fair to Thomas – the child we already have – by pursuing this so fervently. And I’ve tried to make up for it the only way that I know how: with lots of love, and lots of cuddles.

It was during a sofa cuddle session that we captured this month’s pictures. It was Thomas that began playing with the camera, me that suggested we take a family picture, and Ian that set the camera up at arms length and pressed the shutter release.

It may not be a perfect family photo. It may not be very exciting. But it’s my family, just as we are.

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And of course, no Me and Mine would be complete without an outake. Or Thoma sticking his finger up his nose. Boys will be boys…

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 dear beautiful

Me and Mine – December

I never seem to have any time at the end of the year for all the reflective stuff that other people manage, so that sort of thing will have to wait until next week. But the final thing I really wanted to get done today was to post our final family pictures from this year.

Me and Mine has been running for a whole year now. I joined in on the spur of the moment in January, but sadly haven’t managed to keep up every month. I still love looking back at all the family pictures we do have – several of which would most definitely not be in existence if it weren’t for this project. I definitely think more about getting all three of us in front of the camera during days out and special occasions, which has to be a good thing. I’m actually sharing three pictures today – because I couldn’t choose between them – and each was taken because I thought “This is a good opportunity for a group shot”. If I’d been planning more, I might have aimed to capture us over Christmas itself – eating, drinking, in front of the tree. But Christmas didn’t quite pan out as expected and I’m very happy with the pictures we captured during the month before.

IMG_0984On the Santa Special steam train. Despite his expression, Thomas loved riding on a “Steeeeeeeeam twain”.

IMG_1004Meeting Father Christmas himself. Thomas sat very happily on his knee chatting about the “big present” he wanted (nothing specific, just big!). He looked a bit happier in the individual shots and was only looking a bit glum because we were witholding his present from him!

IMG_1065Thomas’s first bowling experience, which he absolutely loved! Probably my favourite of the three pictures if I’m pushed!

Having said I have little time for reflection, some is always inevitable on New Year’s Eve. 2014 is a year which will, one way or another, bring big changes to our family. Today marks the official beginning of our very first cycle of IVF treatment. By this time next year we will – hope against hope – have another child, or at least be heavily pregnant. But since we don’t plan to tear ourselves apart over this, we may equally have come to the conclusion that our family is meant to be a family of three.

It will be a year that, either way, I want to record and with that in mind, I’m committing to trying to complete all twelve months of Me and Mine next year.

Happy New Year!

 

dear beautiful

Me and Mine – October

Once again, I’m a little late to the Me and Mine party. But better late than never, right?

October has been a month of changes. Changes in the weather and season. Changes in my work pattern. And changes in my attitude… well, I’m working on that last one, but there is a definite shift towards positivity and it’s a start!

October has also been a month of new things, including a much coveted new camera. Between us we had two Canon 400D cameras, the newer of which was over six years old. One was retired at the beginning of the year due to major auto-focus problems. The other has travelled many thousands of miles, captured many thousands of images and was well loved, but past its prime. The upgrade is a Canon 70D, surprisingly secured at a fantastic price on Tottenham Court Road just mere minutes after we decided on a quick look whilst commenting that “you never get a good deal on Tottenham Court Road anymore”.

This month’s Me and Mine images are still the kind of last minute, afterthought photos that I’ve come up with for every other month I’ve joined this project. But this time they take advantage of features of the new camera that I thought gimmicky before I’d got my hands of them, but now see could be really useful.

My favourite of our two images is a holding-the-camera-at-arms-length type of shot. But rather than randomly guessing on the position and focus, this was taken using Live-View with the fully articulated screen swivelled round to face us. I used to wonder why anyone would need Live View on an SLR, but I’m already finding all sorts of other strange angles I can now capture shots from without the need to lie down on the floor or contort myself in to a painful yoga pose! It’s still rather awkward to hold an SLR in this way, but we only had to take a single shot to get this, rather than taking ten attempts to even have all of us in the frame! It’s still not perfect – Thomas is lightly out of focus – but look at the cheeky expression on his face!

Me and Mine October(This image includes something else new this month – new glasses! These are the first new frames I’ve had in three years, and I like them enough to give contact lenses a rest for a bit!)

The second image was taken last Sunday whilst we tucked in to a roast dinner. Since the weather has closed in, the 5pm family Sunday roast is becoming a ritual. I find cooking a roast at lunchtime eats a lot in to the day, but I love having the opportunity for us all to share a meal before Thomas goes to bed, so this works well. I took this photo using the camera’s wireless feature and the associated phone app which acts as a remote. Unlike the basic camera remotes I have used before, this gives you a full preview on your phone screen and the ability to adjust basic settings. I thought wireless in a camera really was a gimmick, but I definitely love this feature!

Me and Mine October 2

I don’t love this photo. I look windswept and bedraggled mainly because we had been to the park in a gale and I had then spent the remainder of the afternoon in the kitchen. I feel slightly awkward as I’m really just playing with the new camera features. BUT, this is a proper moment of family life. And, as always, that means more to me than anything else!

dear beautiful

Me and Mine – September

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We have a gatecrasher in our Me and Mine photo this month – my big brother, who lives almost half a world away on the west coast of the USA. The distance between us means we don’t see nearly enough of each other because it’s a long flight for a little boy who can’t sit still. Even the eight hour time distance makes the windows of time for phone calls and Skypeing rather narrow. I wish he got to spend more time with his nephew, and that Thomas saw more of his uncle. I obviously wish I saw more of my brother, as he’s the only one I’ve got.

His visit was fun. He was quickly inducted in to the world of toddler Thomas, including making tunnels on restaurant tables for trains to drive through, hours of pushing on the swings, reading endless stories and drawing trains on demand. My brother left knowing many more of the characters from Thomas & Friends than he did when he arrived. Thomas consistently mispronounced his uncle’s name in a very endearing way. And to complete the experience, had a nappy leak in his lap. Well, you don’t know toddlers until you’ve had that happen, right?!

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The rest of the month has been busy too. Following on from last month’s Me and Mine, I’ve seized opportunity and possibly tempted fate by treating myself to lovely new clothes, including new jeans which clearly won’t fit for long if I do fall pregnant. I’ve agreed to a change I my working patterns from the beginning of next year that will secure me more income. It will also secure me a better maternity package if I do fall pregnant, but probably won’t be practical to sustain on my return to work from maternity leave. So we’ll just have to see. We’ve also booked a family break to Center Parcs next spring, and pre-booked cycle hire despite the fact that if I fell pregnant now, I’d have a six month bump and almost certainly not be the right shape for riding a bike.

And perhaps most importantly of all, we’ve started the process of fertility testing to search out a reason, if one exists, for why I’m not falling pregnant. Simply getting the ball rolling has made me feel more positive that one day our family photos will contain another little person.

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dear beautiful

Me and Mine – August

For much of the month of August, I’ve felt as though I’ve been caught in a spin cycle, tossing violently from one commitment to another with no time to gather my breath or my thoughts and never really feeling like I’ve finished one thing before hurtling on to the next. And my emotions have been on a separate roller coaster of their very own. It’s been a tough month of not being pregnant, with three babies born to women who had their first around the time I had Thomas, one due (literally) any moment now and two more pregnancies announced. Envy may be an ugly and pointless emotion, but when you are surrounded by people who have achieved what you desperately desire, I think it’s a natural to feel it at least a little bit, and I’ve certainly been guilty of more than a few tears. To add to it, I feel burned out by the effort of keeping my blood sugars tightly controlled enough for pregnancy for so many months and still being no nearer having anything to show for it. It’s like salt in the wound.

What has brought me around amongst all of this is being reminded of the good and of all the ways in which my life is currently blessed. Top of that list is my family unit; My boys. And looking at this photograph, I can’t help but smile and feel my heart smiling too.

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It was an unscripted moment, taken (as you can see if you look at the reflection in Ian’s sunglasses) with the front camera on my iPhone on a spontaneous family day out to Port Lympne Wild Animal Park. Having missed ‘Me and Mine’ last month, I’d planned to actually set up a proper shoot this month, and take some pictures expressly for this project. But then I snapped this one in a quick moment in the sunshine, and instantly loved everything about it. Well, perhaps not the double chin. But I love Thomas’s cheeky grin, Ian’s natural face. I love how we are smooshed so closely together, as we so often are when we are sharing books, having tickle fights or simply sharing cuddles before bedtime.

We’re that happy three.

I want Thomas to have a sibling more than anything. But it doesn’t really matter if it takes a lot longer than we would have liked, or perhaps even never happens at all. So long as I have Ian and Thomas.

This photo reminds me of that. Me. And mine. It’s all I really need.

dear beautiful