Thursday, 2 February 2017

Books and films so far this year...

See post below for an explanation of what I'm doing, but so far this year I have managed to consume...

Lisa Jewell, The Girls - this has been the most "chic lit" thing I've read. I used to really enjoy Lisa Jewell books years ago but hadn't read any for a while. It was good at the start but ended very abruptly, with some very improbable happenings to tie up various subplots.

Asne Seiersad, Bookseller of Kabul - This is a book drawn from the author's experience of living in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. It's very sad with some initially sympathetic characters turning out to be not so sympathetic. It was like a small window into an Afghan family; any of the stories could have been their own book.

Philippa Gregory, The Virgin's Lover - a book about the scandalous love affair between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley. The main character was Dudley's wife, Amy. Who is really fucking irritating and, abandoned by her Dudley, turns to the church to find a bloke to tell her what to do, which is to cling onto her husband. I was willing her to grow a spine...

Kazuo Ishiguoro, The Forgetful Giant - One of the disadvantages of doing a reading challenge is that you don't get to reread or really think about books. This book philosophised about the advantages and disadvantages of leaving the past behind and forgetfulness. I did really enjoy it but it was delibarately ambiguous and inconclusive. I think I'll reread it when I'm finished the challenge.

Anne de Courcy, The Fishing Fleet: Husband Hunting in the Raj - This was a history book about young women travelling to British India to marry. It was fascinating and well written, with plenty of anecdotes. However, I'm not entirely convinced the British in India were as straight laced as they'd have you believe, and I'd expected a bit more about the Indian Mutiny and losing the Raj. Very good, though.

Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography - A series of essays about geopolitical pressures and conflicts on Earth. Produced last year, I'd love to see an upate this year sometime. Assuming a Twitter inflicted Armageddon doesn't happen before the second edition is printed.

Terry Pratchett, the Shepherd's Crown - I loved Terry Pratchett all through my teens and early 20s, stopped reading for a few years, ordered this and then didn't read it at first. I wish I'd picked it up earlier as he never lost his flare for a moment. He introduces some fantastic new characters and I caught myself looking forward to the next Discworld novel to find out what happens next. Great as a book, bittersweet as a Pratchett fan.

Vicky Bhogal, Cooking with Mummyji  I saw this in a second hand shop and snapped it up as I love British Asian food and I'd meant to buy this when it came out, ages ago. I haven't cooked enough from it to review it as a receipe book but I enjoyed all the anecdotes. Interesting, for all the author makes great play of the matriarchal role in teaching cookery, a lot of the receipes are credited to her Dad.

And a film...

Trainspotting 2 - As mentioned, I don't get to the cinema very often, but everyone went to see this. It wasn't quite as sharp, funny or zeitgeisty as the original, but it was still excellent. The scene in the Orange Lodge was standout, and Begbie is more terrifying with age.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The culture project

I read about the 100 books in a year project recently and thought it'd be a good idea to try. I like reading but stuff going on have meant less time on this, and I'd like to rekindle my love of books. I'm a relatively fast reader, a skill the Boy, gratifyingly, seems to be picking up.

However, I know there are going to be dry reading months, and I've decided to make this 100 movies/books year. The reason is I love films almost as much as books but get only a small window at night after the Boy is in bed, or a rare date night, or a kids' film that we all want to go and see at the pictures (cinema or movies to you), to add to the total.

The rules are:

Mostly, any film or book counts to the total.

I will generally discount any kids DVD I wouldn't choose to watch without children (endless Thomas the Tank Engine and similar) or children's films I do find quite entertaining but can recite them backwards (anything featuring the Minions).

I started off this challenge trying to read literary books. This very quickly felt like the worthiest, most middle class project ever. Although I think I'd be failing the challenge if by the end I could say I'd read 100 romance novels, I'm aiming for a mix.

I'm not counting Game of Thrones because I love Game of Thrones and would watch it over and over again, forever. If I ever start watching any of the box sets everyone else raves about then I will probably count that. I will draw up the rules on box sets as I go along, if I have to.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Gearing up to try again, and clinic woe

So we thought we should go back and see the clinic to talk about the next transfer, and booked an appointment.

We then got a vaguely snotty letter through the post from the clinic saying a consultations cost £130 if you finished treatment more than 2 months ago, or unless you had treatment booked.

I don't mind paying for treatment at all and realise it's reasonable to charge for consultations to discourage timewaster, but this seemed just a bit grabby.

I e-mailed the clinic to explain that the reason we needed an appointment more than 2 months after treatment was that I'd had a miscarriage that got detected at 12 weeks, we had frozen embryos and asking that under the circumstances could they waive the fee.

A few hours later I discovered a voicemail on my phone from one of the nurses apologising for not calling me last month (??? We let the clinic know and they did call us back) and then saying sorry we'd lost our baby and to give her a call on Thursday or Friday.

None of this was very helpful. In practical terms we're going to see the clinic before then anyway and I suspect they'd not read my notes, in emotional terms it kind of temporarily pulled me back to the time around the scan and surgery.

Anyway, on the plus side, we're going to see them. On the minus side, AF hasn't appeared yet and it's six weeks since I had surgery.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Roll on 2017

Sorry for the absence.

What happened was, I did the IVF cycle and froze everything. I then went off and did the thing that I last blogged about. This all ended up in tears because, y'know, you can't have young (ish) women going around running things and pissing off old men.

So then I got on with IVF. This went swimmingly at first - pregnant on the first go, everything looked fine. I got past the point of all my previous losses and was beginning to relax.

The hcg checks were fine, the 8 week scan was fine, I was being sick everywhere, all good.

Except then I got to my 12 week scan and there was no heartbeat.

So it was all a bit shit.

I then, after a few days, got a surgically managed miscarriage (waiting days was torture, but I've discovered that in some places they make you wait a fortnight, which must be horrendous).

Mentally, I'm not as bad as I was in the olden days after losses. Having the Boy means that things could be a lot worse.

I also think that some of the behaviours learned from previous losses, and I suppose a much lesser expectation that things will be ok, means you've less far to fall.

Some things I had forgotten about though - we've got another two embryos to go and I'd forgotten what a pain in the arse it is not knowing what you're doing from month to month.

But anyway, that's where I am. I hope to be back blogging a bit more regularly but we'll see what happens!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

My lovely lady lumps

I can't believe it's been 9 month since I last blogged. In a way it seems much shorter, but also much longer as very much has happened in a short space of time.

I've been promoted at work - well, sort of. Although I have probably made the glass ceiling that ittle bit wider, it isn't so much a glass ceiling as a glass floor you have to stand on. While everyone makes comments about your pants.

I am perfectly well qualified to do my job. Better than the men twice my age who have traditionally dominated, and who I certainly work harder than. But who probably don't get:

"Your hair is too short. You need to grow it long."
"You need to cut your hair into a crop."
"Our new boss has... a child!" - normally said in the same tones as if I slept in a coffin. Did I mention that my industry has problems attracting 'normal' people?
"You've got way more energy than our competitors. But I really have to pray for your family." Ditto.

The weirdest one was when my second in command called, to say I needed to be careful to cover up. Don't wear anything too low cut, or too short, he said. Wear a suit.

"But the CEO of our organisation goes to work wearing jeans."

For heaven's sake, even my Mum has said I look smart recently...

"Just, I just, I had to say something."

I was a bit baffled until I was in the office with a volunteer (yup, it is mostly volunteer run, so I can't go around sacking people.) She gestured at a PR photo and said "Well I thought that photo was a bit embarrassing, frankly".

The same woman has been really rude to me before, but one of the younger, more sane volunteers said, after I bit my tongue very hard and she left, "It's because you've got boobs".

And in the photo, you can actually see I have boobs. This is true. It was shot from the side, and I have 34Hs. I hadn't really noticed - I'm wearing a respectable dress and, anyway, believed we had got over judging a woman on their tits, unless they're in some sort of lapdancing contest.

I went through a bit of worry with this. Most high street shops have clothes that are cut for women that are a bit more up and down than me - so if I wear 'normal' clothes I look like a marquee. I already get my clothes online from specialists.

It all looks worse if you wear things that have a high neckline, like I have a tyre shoved down my top.

I could bind my chest, but frankly, I have enough trouble with control underpants (there's a whole blog post in the Bridget Jones esque leotard I own, that is meant to hold my stomach in place yet bursts at the gusset at every opportunity. Or the weird corset thing with a hole in for weeing through, but that you really have to take off every time you go to the toilet).

Unless I've really worn something too low cut - and I don't believe I have, and this tallies up with comments that other newly promoted people have had - some people are just jealous. And wonder why moaning hasn't reaped rewards, while looking at my tits - but not clicking that I'm pretty good at getting up off my arse.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Glass half full

So, egg collection was today. I've had a few operations in my time, so all pretty much normal.

On the good side, I have 8 eggs which were good enough to fertilise. Hopefully enough will get to blasto stage to get us pregnant this time.

On the bad side, one of my fucking ovaries is inaccessible. At some point between now and the last fresh egg collection - during which I've had an ectopic and a caesarian - it appears to have become fused onto a scar and moved further up than it normally would be.

This means that the surgeon couldn't get at it without going through the side of my womb and a bit too close to an artery.

Of all the things I've read about happening and experienced myself during IVF, this wasn't one of them. So even someone who has spent a lot of time in the trenches can still be surprised.

The Boy has a chunky wooden elephant jigsaw. Every piece is numbered, and slots together. Sometimes the Boy jams one piece into another in a way that doesn't quite fit, so comes up, waves a trunk and a leg jammed together at me and shouts, "Fix it!".

We have lost a couple of pieces of the jigsaw in the big box of Duplo, which is currently topped with bits of marble run, Peppa Pig, bits of plastic Cbeebies crap and just other random things shoved together.

It feels like my reproductive system is like the elephant, except some bits are beyond a grown up patiently and gently pulling the pieces that have gone awry apart and putting them together in the right order. I'm not about to get the missing bits back.

On the outside, things are loosely in place by the skin around my stomach, which has itself become increasingly loose, ill fitting and elephantine with each round of surgery.

I could apparently get a laparoscopy to check out why the prodigal ovary is merrily dancing around further up my abdomen, but if I manage to have another child from the eggs we got in this cycle then I think I'll be quitting when I'm still, moderately, ahead.

Then I'm going to have a tummy tuck. Or stuff all the toys beneath the folds of skin while I glug wine on the sofa.

Anyway, 8 eggs at this stage is not so far - I just need to keep everything crossed they get to day 5 and go in the freezer. Then I have other stuff on...

Saturday, 18 April 2015

It's been a while

I hadn't meant to not blog for this length of time - I just got caught up with a whole load of other things.

Also, I started our next IVF cycle. I'd almost gotten superstitious about not dwelling on this one as much as the first set of cycles, and while I'd meant to write about it, I was worried about ending up being as completely neurotic this time around as I was during the worst times of the last.

We also decided to freeze everything. A couple of things came up at work and I remembered after I'd started how much it took out of me, plus I wanted to go on holiday and have a beer, so we decided it would be best to put things on ice. Also, and to be perfectly honest, I missed out so much stuff the first time round I quite enjoyed being able to make a decision to put things on hold and get on with the rest of my life for a bit, rather than everything else coming second to IVF.

So, we started downregging and then stims. Apart from a couple of bouts of stomach upsets, everything was fine.

Until a couple of days ago with the stims.

The clinic - who, I must say, are the most commercialised I've had so far - had pointed out I had a high AMH and that I'd produced a lot of eggs in my last fresh cycle, and said they'd avoid trying to overstimulate this time.

So I got my meds, began injecting, and soon began to get thumping headaches, dizzy spells and just generally felt like my brain was scrambled eggs. Ten days later, which was yesterday, I pitched up for my first scan.

The nurse said "Oh, it might be a good thing you decided to freeze everything."

It turns out I have more than 28 follicles. Ok, they might not all have eggs, but it's probably not a surprise I'm not feeling too great. If you produce more than 20 eggs clinics here freeze everything to stop you getting OHSS.

Today, I got up, tried to walk to a volunteer event I wanted to go to, which was meant to be a good thing for my job and which I was looking forward to. Then I started feeling sick five minutes after leaving the house and had to get my husband to pick me up. And I've spent the sunniest day of the year stuck inside feeling pukey and exhausted.

I know i'm really lucky having had one child so far, and I'm lucky being able to afford a second round. And I know people out there don't get a great response during the stimming phase - including one of my friends - and that they'd cheerfully swap for a good response and a bit of discomfort.

So, while I'm definitely at the less shitty end of the "things that can go wrong during IVF"  scale, I wish it was all more reliable, easier and more straightforward for everyone.