Sunday, 16 December 2012

Never again

I read something on Facebook about a shooting, and I must admit, I thought "Oh, not another one". From a distance, it's possible to become somewhat hardened to mass shootings in the US.

Then I saw a news headline about what happened in Newton and felt sick to my stomach. It's not a parent thing, it's a human thing - because what person wouldn't feel appalled and upset?

It's incomprehensible. I can understand the sort of twisted logic that might prompt a bullied high school student to lash back at his peers in the worst possible way - still inexusable and horrific though it is. A grown man slaughtering children is just beyond any understanding.

Yet it's the second time it's happened in the comparatively short number of years I've been on Earth. The mass murder at Dunblane happened when I was a teenager. You have to wonder what sort of planet has produced not just one, but two, entities of evil like Hamilton in less than 20 years.

After Dunblane, school security became massively tighter here. Parents who'd previously been lax about uniform demanded it be enforced, heavy doors were fitted at the entrances to school buildings. Gun law also massively tightened up and is becoming tighter still; there's no "right to bear arms" culture here, and many in the shooting lobby agreed that, if it prevented another school massacre, it was worth it (and these measures have been very effective).

But that's for people in the US to think about, another day. Right now all my thoughts are with those poor children, their teachers and their families. I wish I could think of something I could do to make a difference, but really, there is nothing and no-one that can heal those wounds right now.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Royally irritated

I thought I'd stop feeling that old flash of pain at someone's pregnancy announcement, and I mostly have. But for some reason, news that Kate and Wills are expecting is irksome.

I guess there are multiple reasons, some to do with infertility, some to do with the whole OTT madness.

The recent indicent where a royal fan gave Prince William a babygrow was absolutely cringe-inducing. Who does that? She might as well have handed over an ovulation tester and some folic acid, and perhaps some condoms with a pin stuck through the middle. But I bet the woman in question is all very smug about it now. Which is annoying.

Then there's the media coverage. As far as we know, this is an early pregnancy announcement. But the BBC have gone into full gush mode. I read yesterday on their website that the baby will grow up to be the head of the Church of England, the British Armed Forces, the monarch of however many Commonwealth countries, and much more besides.

But it's an embryo, for Christ's sake. It hasn't even been born yet. And aside from me feeling a bit superstitious about going overboard with early congratulations, there's no guarantees that, by the time whoever is currently baking is ready to take on the throne, that there will still be a Commonwealth, that the British monarch will still be the head of the C of E, and all the rest. I mean, the wee one's grandad still hasn't had his shot at being the head honcho yet, and during the next few decades some of the Commonwealth might reasonably decide to be republics, and there might not even be a UK as we know it.

Embryo might marry an American divorcee, renounce all royal ties and hang about fascist dictators - these things are not unknown. Or he or she might even convert to Catholicism, which, if I remember rightly, would rule him or her out of the whole kinging or queening business.

And there's the endless chat on Facebook. Loads of people on my feed apparently think it's very funny a woman got admitted to hospital with severe morning sickness.

So, I hope the baby arrives safely. It must be crap being that ill when you're pregnant, and having to press release the news in case someone sees you in hospital and leaks it, rather than telling people in your own time.

I also sincerely hope that we're not going to get daily news bulletins about how the pregnancy is progressing. And I feel a bit sorry for all the women out there who are going through IF and dreading getting someone's pregnancy rubbed in their face in the most out there way imaginable.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

What goes up

The Boy loves the Forwards and Backwards game:

Forwards and backwards and forwards and backwards and
Up and down, and up and down, and
Side to side, and side to side, and
Roundabout, and roundabout, and
Ready to start again

His little face splits into a grin as soon as we start, and I bounce and toss his wee body around, while he enjoys the ride and grins and has no control.

I think I'm about to do the adult version.

We're on holiday, which involves the Boy's first flight, and generally dealing with a foreign city, and, more specifically, managing a baby in a foreign city. We have got the hang of going out here (hurrah!), but I'm sure we will find a million and one things that we haven't thought to look up the vocab for.

Then I start a new job, while still keeping up the old one and leaving the Boy in nursery (not full time, a couple of sessions a week).

Then I have to fly to a meeting and back in a day for new job (eek). The day after I have both a thing to do with the Boy which involves him wearing formal togs, and friends coming over for dinner.

Then I work the old job and new job for a week, spend time with the Boy, and then another return flight for a meeting.

Then I think I will be almost ready to crawl into bed forever, but it will be a week before Christmas, which we're hosting.

My carbon footprint will be the size of Greenland, I will spend more time out my comfort zone than in it, and - most important of all - I have to keep the Boy feeling happy and secure.

But, it's good. I used to have a daily 3 hour travel time to a stupidly stressful job that pushed all sorts of boundaries. Then, various things happened, and ended up a bit under-employed, but there was no point looking for anything else during IVF. I got stuck in a rut, and this is an escape route. The next few weeks hopefully won't be as bad as either my original stressful job or IVF, and will move me forward, life-wise.

I've also had to ditch some stuff, and point out to some people that my priorities have to change, now. I don't think this is a bad thing - more a sort of spring clean of responsibilities.

I have done what I can. There are sloes steeping in gin, I have most of my Christmas presents. My husband is resolutely awful at the foreign language, and so am I, but at least I can shout "My horse is on the beach with the cheese, he has a fast green turd!" I have bought a pair of purple tights.

I still need to buy suitable work clothes, work out how to calm a baby on a plane, and worry about my first solo flight.

But I think, through all this, it will sometimes feel as if a giant force is pushing me back and forwards. And there's nothing else to do but smile and enjoy the ride..

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The first cut

There's the temptation to think that, when you give birth, that is The End. The Happy Ending. But its more true that it's opened up a new plotline in my life - a new act, a new chapter.

I've been in my current part time job for a while. Years, in fact. On the plus side, it was fairly easy to get things done when I was going through IVF. On the minus side, there is little progression, and if I stayed there, little is going to change.

Another big minus is that, if I stay with my longstanding employers, I'm a bit stuck, location-wise. Where we stay now is fine for two adults, and it's even ok for a toddler. But sooner or later the Boy is going to want to play in the street and have a bit more freedom, and that's not really something that we can provide him with where we are.

I suppose, in all parts of my life, the old arrangements have served us well for a while - I occasionally still feel enthusiastic about my job, and I like our house. But even before the IVF worked I was becoming more and more ready to move on - in fact, one of the more frustrating things about it was being stuck in limbo. The uncertainty about treatment and the clinic was like a big anchor holding our lives in position. And now that anchor has lifted, and we are beginning to be pulled along by the current.

We have begun what could be a long, slow process of rearranging our entire lives.I've got another part time job. One that isn't so tying to a specific area.

There's going to be lots of other things we need to do - my husband needs another job. We need to sell our house and buy another, possibly renting along the way. We will need to make friends and fit in with our new community, wherever that may be.

It will take months to finish the process, at least. Possibly more like years - and that's even if you ever really get to a point to in your life, where you live in a house and like your job and nothing else will happen until you retire. Change is part of modern life. And, from having gone through years of repetition and stagnation, I'm both enjoying this phase of change and looking forward to what will happen next.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Whingy fertiles

I just saw an item on a tv show about this woman. I'd missed her article when it came out, but it's basically about how she felt abandoned by her infertile friends when she got pregnant with twins.

Now, I've been through infertility, I've been through a pregnancy. I know other people online who must have struggled with me being pregnant and with the wee guy just now, and I do try and edit myself so I'm not being insensitive. So I should be able to see both sides of this.

But I just find Ateh Jewel really, really irritating. I know it must have been very stressful carrying twins, and that it's hard when people aren't happy for you. But I still found her article quite irksome.

For a start, it seems an astronomical coincidence that she has so many infertile friends - at least three, possibly more. Unless you make all your friends down the IVF clinic, that's a bit weird. But possible, I suppose.

But, suspicious that she may be exaggerating aside, you get the impression Jewel both can't see beyond her own arse and expects the world to revolve around it. The first friend she mentioned was apparently her closest friend, they'd known each other for years, yet it came as a complete bolt out of the blue that her friend was struggling to get pregnant... really? Surely she must have had an inkling that her friend wanted babies but they were not appearing.

And the stuff about "picturing her friends screaming with delight", wanting to phone everyone she knew as soon as her blessed pee produced the second line, and wanting to gab endlessly about being pregnant... it seemed like she'd made up a perfect scenario in her head which was unlikely to go to plan anyway. My sympathy levels dropped further at her being upset at abandoning her own baby shower planning (most people don't have baby showers here, and I thought it was bad form to plan your own?).

Jewel also says she got lots of interest and presents from friends who were unattached, who were presumably really interested in her pregnancy. Isn't that enough? Why, when you have people who are interested and want to hear, and you've got most of what you wanted, would you start focusing on the people who aren't in a good place to hear about your pregnancy?

She does seem to be slightly more self-aware when saying she realised her friends didn't want advice from her. But then goes on to whinge about not being able to whinge to them about morning sickness.

On the telly (and there's no clip on YouTube yet), she compared infertility to her father having left when she was young, and how she was pleased for her friends when their father's walked them down the aisle, so they should have been pleased for her pregnancy. This made me grind my teeth a bit.

I mean, I don't get jealous or angry about people who have all the siblings they were born with (although I must admit I do, internally, get a little bit eye-rolly at people who make a massive deal about their aunty dying at the age of 108 or whatever, but I wouldn't avoid them and would always be sympathetic, as just because my granny dying didn't seem like a massive loss in the same way my brother dying was, every family is different).

But infertility is such a nagging pain, that goes away and comes back and can be impossible to resolve as there's nearly always the hope that it might somehow be ok.  Its not the same as a bereavement, which is an ending, or losing a family member through a relationship breakdown-  where you either get a clean break or the chance to take control of the relationship. Which isn't to say that they're easy, or not as bad as infertility - it's just a different sort of pain, and one that is difficult for many people to understand.

Fertility and infertility is difficult in friendships. I think the best way to deal is to accept that some people just aren't appropriate supports all the time - everyone goes through periods of being a supporter and a supportee, if you like - and if both people feel they need support then both parties end up feeling drained. If you excuse the self help style phrasing, friendships should be more like rubber bands, which are stretchy and allow people to retreat and get a bit of space, than bonds of rigid expectation.

Maybe I am too harsh. But it just seems like when you've got a happy thing to look forward to, and people looking out for you who share in your excitement, that its fair to cut some slack to people who aren't in such a happy situation.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


There have been a few milestones with the Boy recently, and a few hard decisions.

I'm gradually stopping breastfeeding, because of work. For the same reason, the Boy is going to go to nursery a couple of afternoons a week. I have also just pushed his cot from our room into his own room. The spare room, that for so long was a reminder that we had no kids, is now going to be occupied.

It's great the Boy is thriving. Nursery should be good for him as it will help with socialisation. He can't stay in our room forever. I'm just not into extended breastfeeding. He's already trying to squash my breast to force the milk out faster, which I'm not very keen on!

But a large part of me feels guilty and sad. The "little baby" stage has flown in, and I am not sure if I ever will get another little baby. Irrationally, it makes me feel like I should try and make the Boy be a little baby for longer, and hang onto this phase for as long as I can.

That's not the best course of action though. If I go down the road of being tragic anytime he gains a bit of independence, then both he and I will be miserable. I am very lucky to have him and I am proud he is doing so well.

But I find myself looking up success stats at local clinics to see if they have improved since last year. Just checking, you understand.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


When I was still  at school, I spent four years studying a modern European language - let's call it Esperanto. I quit it before I had to sit any formal exams in it, because I really didn't like the teacher. Also, one of the methods they used to teach us was to plonk us in front of an video with no subtitles and expect us to learn it. I remember watching it in increasing horror, becoming more and more certain I it was beyond me.

Bizarrely, I have avoided this country for nearly all of my life, largely because it reminds me of a feeling bad at a language. And  Mrs Roberts screeching at mee that I was like "a half shut knife in this class".

But, we were looking for somewhere to take the Boy, and Esperant is close by and the flights were cheap and not at unholy hours. So we booked.

We decided that I would do most of the talking, but it would be good to get one of those "teach yourself..." type books to refresh me.

The thing is, somehow something must have seeped into my brain. I can remember all the basic stuff, like saying "hello", "goodbye", and a whole bunch of extraneous shit that is almost entirely useless. I looked up a few book courses online and asked my husband to buy one as he works next to a big bookshop. I asked for one which seemed to cover the basics in brief but was more aimed at people who already had a little bit of the language.

My husband knows absolutely none of it, and his pronunciation is beyond atrocious, even for the words that are in common useage in English. He got a book for complete beginners.

So I am spending this evening typing this and listening to bits of Esperanto that I can remember, that will be more or less useless in a tourist context. My husband is hunched over the book, his brow furrowed, trying to learn something that will be of little use to him as:
a) it is genuinely useless stuff for the purposes of a weekend away and,
b)  if he did want to introduce Bernard to Sylvia, I would be able to do it for him and
c) even if he really should introduce Sylvia to Bernard, he always forgets these social niceties in English, and Sylvia and Bernard would probably end up staring awkwardly at each other and end up trying to strike up a conversation about the weather

He says not to worry. For some reason I do, like Mrs Roberts is going to appear at customs and not let me into Esperant until I have remembered the rules for negative verbs (or whatever they're called) and can correctly catergorise sets of nouns by gender. It feels like sitting an exam that I am ill-prepared for, despite the fact several million tourists a year, some with no Esperant at all, go to the bit we're going to.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

More about my friend

I met up with the friend I blogged about last time. She like she'd had her soul ripped out. She's usually very funny and sociable, but was obviously not really wanting to talk to people, or to appear in photos. Because, yes, it was a big family-type event. And even non-infertiles were remarking at the number of babies.

I chatted to her a bit - I can't remember if she brought the IF gig up or I did, but it's obviously sitting on her shoulders really heavily right now. She said she hates it when people ask if they have any kids, and that it really hurts.

She's also way braver than me in that she makes a massive effort to interact with other babies, including the Boy. I think I would (in fact, I know I would) have avoided every baby in the room.

We sent them flowers, I've listened and talked. I know that's a big thing, really. My friends who talked to me when I was going through IF (including this particular friend), who acknowleged how relentlessly shit the whole thing was, who just provided an outlet for the whole torrent of misery that otherwise I would have internalised, they really kept me going.

But it seems like such a tiny little thing. Beyond anything, I just really, really wish I could make her hurt go away. That I could just skip back in time, somehow make her first pregnancy go okay, and erase her bad experiences from time. Or I could go forward, and let her know that it will be okay at the end of this horrendous period in her life.

I'd swap almost anything to stop anyone I love hurting the way I hurt after my miscarriages.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Someone else's loss

The friends of ours that I blogged about earlier had a missed miscarriage, which was eventually confirmed last week.

It's a horrible thing, obviously. I've never been through one, but it strikes me that it must really fuck with your head the next time you're pregnant. I was paranoid with the Boy, anyway, but I would have been worse if my losses hadn't been fairly bloody and obvious early on.

But then, I'm not sure how much comparison is helpful. Just after my ectopics and miscarriages, I was very sensitive and it was easy to say the wrong thing. I don't want to piss my friends off by telling them about how I felt when we were going through the bad years.

But then, I also know (and here I am, comparing again) that it can feel really, really isolating. I only had one person I knew who had had previous ectopics and talking to her was immensely helpful. I don't want to pretend I've sort of wiped it all out from my memory.

What I absolutely don't want to do is to try and push the Boy as some sort of beacon of hope. That sort of thing completely did my head in during treatment. Even although the Boy spent 18 months in the freezer while I miscarried or failed treatment, it would still feel like rubbing it in. Because knowing you've been through a bad time with treatments but have a baby at the end of it is not the same as actually living with the uncertainty of IF and not knowing if you ever will get that happy ending.

I suppose the only thing I can do is to try and emphasise that I've been in a similar, but not identical position before. And, rather than wanting to talk, am ready to listen.

Monday, 29 October 2012

That type of parents

It's a weird thing. When I was going through infertility treatment, I became aware of how invisible and unremarkable I felt. People with children seemed to get far more attention, like the world was rubbing my childlessness in my face.

I don't seek out attention with the Boy, and sometimes it still feels a little bit strange when people coo over him. Part of me always thinks, how did this happen?

It's not always a good thing, though, being more visible. We were staying in a hotel and ate out. The Boy had been pretty good all day, but went bonkers as soon as I tried to put him on his high chair.

To make matters worse, it was one of those sorts of hotels where everyone has discreetly murmured conversations and you can just hear the odd word and the chink of cutlery. Tartan carpets and the faint smell of wee, overly boiled carrots with everything and slightly overly-formal service. If you've ever stayed in the UK in a country hotel, then the chances are you'll know what I'm talking about. The Boy seemed super-loud.

The staff had sat us right at the far end of the room from the door, so we were going to disturb more people by taking him out. The woman next to me spoke English with an unidentifiable and completely incomprehensible accent. She said something to me when I sat down and I didn't want to end up in one of those conversations where you say "pardon?" all the time, so I smiled and nodded a lot.

When the Boy kicked off, I took off the high chair and fed him on my knee. He kept screaming. I breastfed him, just to get him to be quiet, and Incomprehensible Lady kept whispering to her companion, making me extremely paranoid. I ended up frantically scoffing my food while breastfeeding and whisking him out the instant that we'd finished, while my husband sorted us out with a bottle of wine to drink in the safety of our room.

It is a slightly tricky one. I always feel bad that we might be disturbing other people's peace. But there was no way around eating where we did - there wasn't even a takeaway in the village we were staying in, and, for reasons too complicated to go into, we had to be there. I don't mind not taking the Boy to fancy places, or trying to minimise disruption. But you can't live in a cupboard either.

It wasn't all bad. At breakfast time the Boy was all gummy smiles at old ladies, easily charming interested passers by. Which didn't include a childless couple sitting close to us. I really hoped that the Boy, in either his smiling or wailing modes, wasn't going to cause them any heartache. Because babies are almost always noticeable.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The bearded lady

I noticed I was sprouting two hairs on my chin shortly after my 25th birthday. This was liveable with, with tweezers. Then a few more sprouted. Rigorous plucking kept things at bay. Although running my fingers over my chin and feeling a sharp, stubby hair poking out always fills me with irritation - and I can't settle until it is out!

In hospital, when having the Boy, I obviously wasn't paying much attention to my facial hair regime. A couple of days into recovery I realised I was looking, well, hairy. Like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings sort of level. A couple of hairs were long, under-the-chin specimens. Eugh.

The hair keeps on marching on. Soon, if I do not keep up rigorous work with the tweezers and waxing strips, I won't be able to walk down the street without being mistaken for Osama bin Laden. Minus the robes and flowing locks, and kidney dialysis machine.

I mean, it's probably not that bad. I've seen pictures of people with PCOS who had it worse. I've also seen less hairy women too, though.

It's fucking annoying though. Why? Where does it come from? Why do women start sporting taches and beards?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

My ICLW Tale Of Woe

I feel like a bit of a shit after the last ICLW.

I started off with good intentions. I missed a day's commenting but was going to catch up.

Then, on the evening of Day 2, I had a really bad stomach upset. Very very bad. I'm sure you can imagine.
 I had eaten out and had some pains, like I was going to have a gallstone attack. So, for the first time, I took the meds I'm meant to take during a flare. I don't know if it was the gallstones themselves, the meds, the fact that there was a stomach bug going around anyway, or the restaurant I'd eaten at served dodgy food, or some sort of hideous combination of the four. But I don't think I've ever had such an upset tummy.I had to get up at least hourly through the night.

Ironically, the Boy slept very well.

The next day, I felt shattered - unusually, I plonked the Boy in front of the television as I just couldn't face entertaining him. And did a little bit of commenting, although mainly returning comments.

Then my husband got the stomach bug. While I'd more or less had to get on with things during my bout of illness, his was apparently much worse - although given he managed to get a good night's sleep (not that I'm bitter...). If it hadn't been for an unscheduled appearance by my parents, I'm not sure how we would have coped.

Then he got better, and my fucking stomach bug came back. We'd gone out for the day, thinking I was in the clear, and I ended up with bad stomach pains and hopping from cafe to cafe to go to the toilet. That was fun.

The Boy, mercifully, didn't get the vomiting and diarrhea. But he did go absolutely batshit with his sleeping schedule; after sleeping through when I was up, he then had a few nights in a row of getting up in the early hours and resolutely refusing to sleep. I don't know if he had some sort of version of the illness or whether my wakeful nights caught up with him.

The only time he hurled was when I really, really needed to rest and cracked and gave him the emergency carton of formula we'd been carrying about since he was a couple of weeks old. He drank it and then puked it all up, all over my husband. Apparently this often happens when breastfed babies get formula, or so I discovered afterwards.

I couldn't take anything for the stomach upset because I was breastfeeding. I asked in pharmacists and a homeopathic medicine shop on the cafe-heavy day out. Nada. I nearly took some immodium anyway, because I was so fed up. But I was worried that it might harm the Boy.

Anyway, after all that, I kind of abandoned ICLW. Although "abandoning" makes it sound like it was a conscious decision - it was more that I just had to really, really do what I had to do and rest where I could. And then I felt really bad afterwards because I'd effectively freeloaded. I mean, it wasn't a life threatening condition, or anything (although it did really wipe me out).

So, I am sitting this one out as penance. And then I will try and do an Iron Commentor to make up for it at some point in the future.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The undeserving

Sometimes a way to come to terms with infertility and losses is to reflect that it's made you a more compassionate and understanding person - not perhaps in the throes of IVF or in the white hot grief of a loss, but afterwards, when everything has settled.

I suspect everyone who has been through IF knows someone who, privately, they think would rather gain from empathy gained in this way. Not from an actual loss or long term treatment or anything very bad. Just, maybe, a little delay before falling pregnant with #2 or #3, to make them realise it might not be as easy as just relaxing.

A pair of my friends, it turns out, are going through the horrible process that is repeat testing to check the viability of a pregnancy. Both of them were immensely kind to us during the dark days of IVF failures and loss. They've already been through one loss themselves.

It just makes me angry, godammit. There are plenty of other people out there in the world who weren't as nice as them to start off with. There are lots of couples who deserve a pregnancy less, who haven't tried as hard, who haven't had a loss. They don't need to go through a journey, to reflect and think "That was crap. But you know what, it did make me a better person in the end, and I'll be a better person as a result." Because they've always been lovely to people going through bad times, and don't need the wisdom that bad things sometimes bring.

Except, it doesn't work like that. There aren't a finite number of pregnancies or miscarriages or failed cycles in the world. You can't allocate good outcomes to people who are kind or have been through enough already. You can't share the minority's pain of long term treatment, multiple losses or invasive diagnostics amongst the "oh, gosh, I just need to look at my husband. Maybe you should try acupuncture?" brigade, or even the people who have had very little going wrong in any area of their life, to make it all even and fair.

I still wish you could, though.

Friday, 12 October 2012

You again

I got up today, went to the toilet and realised my period had started.

It's been a long time - over a year. I haven't missed it.

It seems kind of pointless, really - I'm never going to conceive without IVF, so it's just a reminder every month that I cannot, will not, get pregnant on my own. Still, I suppose the fact that it's there will help us with Number 2, if there ever is to be one.

That's another thing. In the last couple of days, I've started back at work, part time. Which I have another few months of, before I'm back. We've moved from the pram attachment to the pushchair attachment. The Boy has a bigger seat. I have chucked a lot of my pregnancy clothes, but couldn't quite bear to let some of the maternity clothes I liked go.

It's all focusing my mind on whether I should quit the IVF game when we're ahead, or stagger back into the casino for more thrills, spills and heartache. I do find myself mentally totting up how we'd get the money together for a fresh cycle.

But right now, I know I shouldn't worry about it. I have lots on my mind. Like where I put my tampons...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Magic moments

Things that make the Boy laugh...

Me blowing on his tummy
Me squeezing his tummy (gently!)
Getting bounced on parental and grand-parental knees
Smacking his father in the face
His play mat, sometimes
The little bear toy one of our friends got him
The nicest moment in the last week was when we got back after I'd taken him overnight to my parents. It was the first time he'd been apart from my husband for that length of time. My husband picked us up from the station. I hadn't noticed the Boy missing him - he had too much attention from granny and grandad. But as soon as the Boy saw his Dad on the platform, his face split into a massive grin. 

Ah... it's all worth it!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Part of the furniture

Just after the Boy was born, we got him a bouncy chair. We went for one of the cheaper ones, as I'd read they were easier to bounce. Of course, the Boy was too little to bounce in it at first.

Over the last four months, it has been well used. Battered, even. We lost the electric unit that originally fitted into the base - I couldn't stand the tinny rendition of "Sealed With A Kiss", although it always reminded me of Jason Donovan covering the song in my childhood, and the Boy didn't like the vibrate setting.

It came with two little toys that attached to the front. First the Boy batted them with his fists, then learned to uncertainly grasp them between his fingers. Then, when we stuck them to the front with their velcro straps, he would immediately reach forward and rip them off, and chew them.

The chair has gone everywhere with the Boy that involved an overnight stay. I've gotten used to it, even although it is stained beginning to fray where the joints have rubbed against the fabric. It's not a thing of great beauty, but it's very useful and the Boy now loves bouncing in it.

We've noticed, in the last couple of days, that the Boy is now able to learn forward when he's sitting in the chair. So,very soon, we're going to need to get rid of it, before he's strong enough to flip it over.

It's great he's getting so big, and thriving. It's all a sign that his tiny-baby stage is passing all too quickly.

So, there are a lot of memories attached to the chair. But, while I obviously wonder if we will ever need another one, I don't want to end up getting massively attached to every vest, teething toy and weaning spoon the Boy uses. Life is too short. And there's always going to be some other bit of kit waiting to take up space.

I'll always think of the Boy being a baby when I hear "Sealed With A Kiss", though.

Friday, 5 October 2012


Before the Boy, I knew about the formula vs breastfeeding debate, the disposable vs reusable nappy debate, the natural birth vs a section debate, and all the others. Roughly, you can group them into a "I'm going to be as natural as possible and save the planet" and a "A bit of technology and convenience goes a long way, and can sometimes be essential".

I didn't know about the early weaning debate, about whether or not babies should get any food before 6 months.

On one side, there is WHO, websites like Kellymom, and various other right-on people. Giving solids before 6 months can damage your baby's health, they say. Wait, let them go straight onto meat, dairy, chunkier food. Avoid the evils of the baby food industry and the monotony of purees.

On the other side, there is the baby food industry, most older people, who remember when babies were weaned at 12 weeks. The only evidence is that babies should not get solids before 17 weeks. There's some evidence that waiting until 6 months can mean your son or daughter is more likely to develop allergies. Older health professionals generally have a "every baby is different" approach, which makes sense to me.

 I find the supermarket aisle that's full of lurid looking baby food a bit alarming, though. Over the years, I've gradually stopped eating ready meals. There's something that goes against the grain to make the Boy eat stuff out a packet or a jar when I find most processed food flavourless, and full of suspicious chemicals. I can understand using them occasionally - but the idea of giving jars all the time is not appealing.

So, I've started giving the Boy food before 6 months, but only home cooked, so far. It feels like the right choice - he's certainly interested, and positively enjoys chowing down on mashed bananas, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, swede, and other sweet root veg. He usually makes cooing noises, and occasionally shouts at us if we don't feed him fast enough. He has had several attempts at feeding himself with the spoon, with more enthusiasm than skill - he usually ends up smearing a fair bit of the food over his face before it finds his mouth. He's not so keen on potatoes, but I can live with that.

As usual, I find the "natural is best" camp slightly frustrating - it seems to be as much about judging as anything else. There's too much ideology involved, I think. Somewhere along the line, being pro breastfeeding appears to have turned into wanting to breastfeed exclusively for as long as you possibly can, and be positively delighted if your baby doesn't want any food at 6 months. I don't think giving some pureed parsnip at 18 weeks is the same as putting a rusk in the bottle at 8 weeks, or shoveling additives, vodka or crack into his little mouth, but some of the early weaning hardliners definitely seem to believe it is. I think some of the smugness attached to this makes it less likely that some women will ask advice.

Anyway, we will carry on with the purees. Anyway, it's not at all long before we hit the six month mark, and then the fun will really begin.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Sorry, I've been crap at ICLW and commenting. And even blogging. This is what's been going on, chez Sushi.

Back to work: Not yet, not quite yet.  But I am getting more to do from home, and actually having to go into the world is very close now, a couple of weeks away. And it sucks.

The four month sleep regression: I thought the Boy was doing so well with sleeping. For the last wee while - I'm not exactly sure how many nights - he's been pretty bad. All the cliches about going back to the newborn sleeping apply. He is the clockwork Satan - albeit a very cuddly one - when he's jerking about and shouting at 3am, apparently trying to burn off excess energy. The reward seemingly is that, at the end of this, he'll be more mobile and generally a lot more grown up. The bad news is that this phase can take three months or more. But hey, he's still spent much less time growing than he did in the freezer, and this is much easier than IVF  (the agony of long haul treatment starts to fade a little when you're just trying to deal with stuff, but I keep reminding myself that it really wasn't as bad as the short haul bout of sleeplessness I face at the moment).

Skitters: Yum! Yep, I had a really terrible stomach upset that seems to be doing the rounds. Ironically, the last night the Boy slept normally was the one when the tummy bug kicked in and I was up every hour.

Eating: I need to do a longer post about people being ideologically opposed to solid food. And me being mostly ideologically opposed to jarred food. But the Boy is chowing down on a happy middle ground of purred root veg and banana. He really enjoys it, to the point he occasionally shouts at us if we don't have a spoonful ready the second he's swallowed the one he's on. And if we're not, he grabs the spoon and his dinner ends up coating his eyebrows.

 Mum: My mum has gone from being convinced I have gallstones because I eat deep fried pizza all the time to being convinced it's because I fucked about with my hormones too much during IVF. The former isn't true. The latter might be, but I still resent her telling my sister she hopes I don't try for number 2.

What else:I still haven't found the Boy's passport. I made kimchi the other night. Which reminds me - I want to dance to that Gangnam Style jobby before it passes from it's very brief moment at the pinnacle of cool to being tomorrow's "Agadoo" (But I suspect it will have passed its sell by date by the time I'm ready to go within a mile of a nightclub!).

And I will catch up with everyone's blogs soon.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Someone else's bad day

Just after I graduated, I lived in Temporary Office Worker land, on and off for about four years. Sometimes it was fun. Sometimes it was no security and a pile of shite. Mostly, I think it was ok, but I had a couple of really bad placements where I just couldn't hack the office politics and couldn't seem to do anything right. I was young and a bit daft, and although I tried hard I remember getting a few bollockings for not doing things right. On a couple of occasions this was just an older member of staff throwing their weight around. And a few times it was because I just hadn't done the job properly.

I always found the latter quite hard to deal with and would beat myself up thinking I would never find a proper job. Being a temp, you're often at the bottom of the heap and responsible for essential but very dull details. It's not that exciting but it's important you do rather boring stuff well. I nearly always tried my best, but it does seem a bit pointless, particularly if there's no permanent contract at the end of it.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm now in a relatively responsible job. A temp has been looking after my admin work when I was away.

She seems really nice, but her work has been, well, erratic. Basic stuff like reading and comprehending e-mails, and drafting coherent, accurate replies hasn't been great. And she seems clueless about how the organisation I work for actually operates, even on a basic, general knowledge sort of level.

I'd let things go and let things go. And hoped that when I delved into my inbox sent her re-written drafts of her letters, or let her know that that wasn't how we did things, that she'd twig that she really needed to pay a bit more attention to detail.

Except, she didn't. I was getting increasingly bitter about spending some of my maternity leave sorting her mistakes. In the end, she made another few mistakes that seemed to be mostly caused by just not paying attention; mostly ones that I could explain or apologise away, but one that was potentially quite serious. I queried the serious one today and she was apologetic and gave me her version of events. Then I'd discovered she'd either completely bullshitted me or just not understood something fairly basic. And then she got into a complete panic and everything to do with this particular matter went haywire, because in her haste to try and sort it out, she still didn't take in what I was asking her to do.

I so know that feeling.

But I could have ended up carrying the can for her general dizziness, so found myself having to speak to her boss. Who is going to have a word with her. I imagine she probably feels just as shit as I did in my early 20s when I stuffed up.

I feel bad. It's not helped that I haven't been around to field queries, although I don't understand why, when I've said to ask if she's not sure, she evidently hasn't. She's not a terrible person, she's just probably in that phase where you find out that work is less fulfilling than school and college would have you believe. But then, the sloppy grammar and the constant mistakes make me look sloppy, too. At the end of the day, she needs to do the job, even if it's not very exciting.

Feels weird being on the other side of the fence, though.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Alpha Mommies

I went to a council run baby group. I thought it might be nice to meet other new Mums. I was a bit nervous about going - just because it was a new group of people, and also because I'd spent such a long time actively avoiding normal, fertile women that I felt a bit like I was going to be out of place.

The first time I went was a little bit awkward, but I got chatting to someone else who was fairly new, and was really nice.

The next couple of times, she wasn't there, and it was a bit rum. It soon became apparent that all the other mums went for lunch with each other a couple of times a week after another parent group, and I felt a bit like the unpopular girl at school because no-one had said anything to me about it.

But, I told myself I was being really stupid, and that I shouldn't wait to be invited to things. Some of them had toddlers as well as babies and seemed to have been going to these groups for quite a long time, and were maybe just in a more comfortable groove with the whole parenting group thing and had forgotten than it was nice to make friends as a new parent.

So, after one of them had a long and loud conversation with how to promote the other parent group and how she was now running it, I politely asked her who the group was for and where it met

She was really evasive about who could come to the group, to the point that one of the health professionals who drop in to answer questions at the baby group must have realised what was going on and chipped in and said "Oh, that parent and child group? It's for everyone."

And then the group leader woman started telling everyone about how she had three kids and needed a place to store her personal birthing pool. And there was a lively conversation about how it was best to buy vastly expensive designer clothes for your baby so the babygros didn't get misshapen in the wash.

Uncharacteristically, I felt a bit bad about the whole thing. Like I was never going to fit in at any group, and that I was somehow a bad mother for kitting out DS in stuff from Tesco (I know, I know. I must have been having a bit of a low day - this sort of thing has never bothered me previously). And I didn't understand why the woman had been so obviously unwelcoming about the other parent group.

Until I bumped into one of my neighbours, who was telling me that he hated taking his toddler-age daughter to one of the groups because, when we went, it was all chat about breastfeeding and giving birth. And, of course, it transpired that this was the same parent group that I'd tried to find out about. And that his wife had been to the same group I had, but found them all very cliquey and hard to get on with.

So, it seems like Ive unfortunately run into bunch of women who have no outlet but to try and dominate baby and toddler groups, where they can sit around and stealth boast about how much money their families have, and try and exclude everyone not in their gang. How pathetic. I've stopped going to the original group, I think I've had a lucky escape with the second!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A belated ICLW welcome

Aaaah! ICLW crept up on me when I didn't expect it!

This is a "parenting after" blog. I know this will automatically make some people not want to read on further. But it's not that bad, honestly...

I got pregnant after lots of IVF. I had a natural ectopic. Then I had an early miscarriage after IVF, which sent me a bit bonkers. Then I had two failed FETs, a FET that turned out to be another ectopic, another failed FET and then, on my last two frozen embryos, I got pregnant with the Boy. It took 18 months, more money than I care to think about, and a whole lot of feeling crappy. All the bloggers who started treatment at the same time seemed to be pregnant, my friends were popping kids out, pop pop pop pop.

I went through phases of reading stupid books, either with dubious theories about diet (one more or less said to cut out everything apart from lentils, or some similar bollocks) or New-Age-y belief systems - reiki, Tarot, reflexology and more. I have just chucked out my feng sui book out this afternoon; I still have a little wind chime hanging above the bathroom door, which I desperately hoped would stop my fertility chakras going down the toilet. Or something.

By the end, I believed in statistics. Namely, that if I kept doing IVF, then it would work eventually. And I also had a backup plan if the FETs entirely failed, which was to take a year off treatment and spend part of that time doing the Trans Siberian Express.

Anyway, Russia's vodka supplies remain untroubled. Numbers triumphed where meditation failed. Either that or the wind chime thing really did make a difference after all. And we got there in the end.

I did blog about all this as it happened but had to can the old place for work-related reasons. And, anyway, it made sense to have a fresh blog - about the Boy, about life, and about having no tubes.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Night owl

The Boy usually starts his day at 5.30am - he gets a feed, goes back to sleep while I pump, then wakes properly at about 7.

Tonight, he has woken at 3.30. His teeth are bothering him. I have given him Calpol and fed him, and now there is left to pump. The frustrating bit is that he's still trying to fight sleep, and I'm hoping he isn't going to wake up at 5. His father starts a new job tomorrow and I've got much to do, so the timing is not great.

I nearly posting a Facebook status saying "Bloody teeth!" or similar. Then I remembered how much reading that sort of thing cut me like a knife when I was going through IVF and recovering from losses.

So, on one level it's pretty frustrating, spending ages trying to get him to sleep. I can hear him chuntering away to himself, even now, and I think there might be more waking to come.

On the other hand, having to get up at 3am to look after him is an enormous privilege.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Right to grieve part 2

I actually nearly didn't post this, now. But then, having covered a bit about my brother and everything afterwards in my last post, I think it makes sense to blog about the rest now. Otherwise it's sitting in my head as a post.

It ended up that:

As I mentioned previously, I got drunk and did stupid things. Some of these involved one night stands with dubious men. Did I use protection? Yes, apart from one bloke. When I was still underage, and drunk to the point that most men would have left me alone. I feigned sleep and he gave up halfway. Urrrgh. I will never know if he gave me an infection that destroyed my tubes, but the thought has occurred to me. I did get checked out at a clinic, but that was some time later. Teenage rebellion as will as nihilism - my parents are ludicrously prudish.

One of my sisters and my mother went into what I later read about as competitive grieving. Mum announced at a family gathering that no-one cared as much about my brother dying as she did. Which was probably true, but given that everyone had their own grief to deal with, this caused an enormous argument. Their relationship still hasn't recovered. My sister still occasionally says things in the vein of her being more upset than anyone else, and my Mum does the same. I have tried to tell both of them that all of us were upset in different ways. But to be honest, I'm just really irritated with all of it.

At one point during the aforementioned big family competitive grieving argument, I did suggest that we all get outside counselling. I was in tears and just really bewildered and upset, although despite that, I still think it was a reasonable thing to ask. We didn't, of course.

My Mum went through a phase of writing a book about her life, in which my brother dying featured fairly heavily and trying to get it published. I read one of the early drafts when I was visiting - by this time I had moved away from home and, while I wasn't at all enthusiastic about this project, at least I wasn't a teenager living in a small town with my parents and I had a new life of my own, so I didn't object. But I did try to read it, for her sake, and started ploughing through it. But, it was horribly written, dull, and full of spelling mistakes. I got through a few chapters at the start, and then tried to at least get her to sort out the basic typing errors and spelling, and pointed out that it didn't read very well. Mum went in a huff and my father told me I was being mean.

She did drop off a later edition at my flat. But by then I just didn't want to read anything, at all, to please her. I didn't think it through rationally at the time, but I think I was just done with trying to cope with other family members at the expense of my own emotional wellbring. I know it was possibly her way of justifying her behaviout, but I couldn't face another emotional offload and dragging myself through the whole thing again - I'd read enough, without reading through everything again. The manuscript got kept in a corner of our flat, and remained there for a couple of months, until she asked for it back, and she was evidently hurt that I didn't read it. But then, I just don't feel any guilt for not doing so.

There's all other stupid bits and pieces; my gran being diagnosed with depression afterwards and my mother bitching that she shouldn't be depressed because she didn't always send my brother a birthday card. My other gran muttering my brother's name whenever she passed his photo in the hallway until she died, which was several years afterwards. I still wonder what happened to my brother's girlfriend - I've tried looking her up on Facebook, but no dice. I don't think I'd actually make contact with her, but it would be nice to know she was okay.

I don't quite know why I'm writing all this now. I suppose infertility has been a major struggle for the last few years - in some ways, my miscarriages were harder to deal with than my brother dying, or perhaps were more difficult as there was a cumulative effect. Or maybe having the Boy has given me a chance to work it all out in my head - I have wanted to write about it all for a while, but never knew where to start. These sad couple of years in my life set me off in certain directions with my work and my fertility, and I think I'm only starting to get to grips with the ripple effect now.

Anyway. It's not all doom and gloom, at all.  I think it's a good thing I can write about it now. It's out there on a blog, rather than just whizzing around in my head. It was a bad episode. But life is generally good.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Right to grieve

I read something on a forum recently to the effect that, if a mother loses her child, then she has the right to grieve however she wants and everyone should do their best to support her.

It sounds great, nothing you'd agree with, right? But then, it makes me a bit uncomfortable.

When I was 15, my brother died in a work related accident abroad. It was hideous, and in the immediate aftermath the family pulled together. There was the funeral, and a few things we did, like lighting a fire on the beach and having a special bottle of wine, and little rituals that helped in the days and the weeks following.

But, gradually, my older surviving siblings spent less time with me and my folks, and more time living their own lives. Which left me at home with my parents.

My mum in particular was determined to find out as much detail as she could about what happened. A reasonable thing to want. Except, her obsession with this made my home life really difficult to bear at times.

For about two years afterward, our lives revolved around getting faxes and e-mails from abroad. I hated the fucking fax machine, it used to brood in the corner as a constant reminder that I couldn't move on. I remember getting an absolute bollocking because I accidentally switched it off once. Occasionally it would spit out a fax with details of my brother's death.

My parents used to leave these on the kitchen table so that neither of them missed one, and I'm not sure if I was meant to be included in the information sharing or not. On one occasion they left my brother's autopsy report there. They didn't ever ask me what I wanted, or make a point of talking to me about any of it. I just found letters and documents lying around. Some of it was really distressing - we'd been told at the start that he'd died instantly, and later information found it had taken 45 minutes after he'd been fatally injured.

Things dragged on and on. I generally left my Mum to it, although the whole situation was massively stressful for me, and caused fallouts with friends who I don't think really grasped what was happening. We did agree that she wouldn't try to get any press coverage, so at least that was something.

Except one day I found a note with a list of steps she was going to take to get things further, which included "contacting papers".

I became even more stressed and withdrawn. Eventually, in front of my father, my Mum asked what was wrong. I tearfully blurted out that I was really upset about her writing that she was going to contact the press after promising not to.

Cue a massive row. Dad took my side. Mum said she was perfectly within her rights to leave stuff lying around and came up with some really stupid excuse about why she'd written that down even though she wasn't going to.

I remember her cornering me the next day, away from my Dad, and saying again that the whole thing was fine, and that she was annoyed with me for bringing it up in front of my father, I should have asked her. But it isn't easy for a teenager, who has gone through a loss themselves, to stand up to a bereaved parent who thinks they are entitled to do what they want to bring themselves closure.

It dragged on some more. I think they got more information out, but there wasn't ever a big epiphany or court case that made anyone feel any better, as far as I could see. The small company involved had been lax about safety but there wasn't really a lot anyone could do about it now. My brother wasn't exactly Mr Health and Safety himself, and we loved him for it.

I left home. By this time, I had become irrationally convinced that I was going to die at the same age as my brother, and spent far too much time getting drunk and doing very stupid things. I might have felt like that anyway, but I think having to live alongside my mother's protracted grieving process didn't help me any.

Obviously I really missed my brother and would have done anything to get him back. But I also think that nothing was going to do this, and effectively trapping me in a situation where I couldn't move on wasn't in my interests, and it still makes me a bit angry and upset when I think about it. I think it possibly contributed to the depression and anxiety that occasionally surfaces in my life. It definitely made me surround myself with people who could help in a similar situation - even today, I occasionally run through a checklist in my head of people who could help sort things out in an emergency.

I can understand my mother's need to find out what happened to her son, and possibly even hold someone to account if someone was obviously malicious or overtly neglectful. I think remembering people is healthy, and that grief isn't something to be hidden away. I also think acknowledgement is important and sometimes people need to get over their awkwardness with death. People, generally, have a responsibility to those who have lost children, to help them get over their loss.

But I also think that, as difficult as it might seem, parents who have lost children also have a responsibility to others around them - other children, partners - to let them grieve for their family member and also possibly move on, rather than expecting them to manage their grief in the same way and for the same length of time.

I haven't written about this before but its cathartic getting it out after all this time!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Holiday planning

I had a big theory a while ago that we would henceforth plan our holidays around the most suitable destinations for the Boy's age. Hence, by age 5 we would be going to Legoland, 8 we would be, I dunno, going to see Roman stuff in Croatia, and by age 13 we'd see castles and wolves in Romania, the coolness of the location offsetting the general lameness of not being able to stay home with a crate of beer. By 16 we'd be doing cool city breaks to Oslo and having a couple of quiet pints in the bar. By 18 we'd be encouraging the Boy to do a gap year, on the basis that I always wanted to travel properly for 12 months and never did, and cheerfully packing him off to Buenos Aires with a couple of spare pairs of underpants and his best Beano annual.

This has still to come to fruition, obviously. But we have got the Boy a passport and booked a weekend in a big city a short flight away. It feels a bit scary, but it's one of those things you have to do.

Because if we don't take the Boy abroad now, it will turn into a big Thing. We will worry more about going, then will not go. Then we'll spend our holidays going to York and Ballantrae, forever and ever amen. And the Boy will spend his childhood wanting to go to Benidorm because it is easy and hot.

Sometimes, I think easiness may be underrated. I still, occasionally, get crippling social anxiety when I land somewhere and haven't been abroad for a while. We then spend ages walking around outside the bars and cafes, sizing them all up and wondering if they all do food and whether you're about to make a terrible mistake by venturing into an establishment and asking for a salad when the only food they do is paprika crisps, served by Suzi Sexxi Girl from Moldova, in her gravity defying bikini.

I think taking a small child abroad may make me even more irrationally worried about this, even although (or perhaps because) everywhere else in the world is better at accommodating children than here.

So, I think biting the bullet and going abroad is important, and I'm going to try really hard to plan it out and make it achievable. Apart from that I have lost the Boy's passport.
I have only had it a fortnight. But we've been trying to prepare for the Boy getting more mobile by tidying the flat, and I have somehow tidied it away. The general upheaval in the flat combined with lack of sleep mean that I don't have a clue where it is. I vaguely remember tucking it in somewhere, in a place I thought it would turn up in even if I couldn't remember where it was.

Since then, I have had a bit of freelancing working in. I had a couple of good nights' sleep, as well as some bad ones. Outside of my flat, the world has turned. The Olympics have finished. Stuff has gone on. Andy Murray has won a Grand Slam. Scotland remain shit at football, because some things are unchanging. My head has moved on. And I have no idea where I put it.

And I can't find it, because I spent all my time looking after the Boy's immediate needs, cleaning, cooking, trying to fit in freelancing and occasionally communicating with friends or reading.

I really hope it turns up soon. Otherwise, Blackpool beckons.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pearly whites


This is how our evenings go at the moment. The Boy has a couple of teeth coming through. So far, he's not been too bad during his normal sleeping hours, but between 7pm and 9pm is pretty bad. He goes through periods of screaming in complete torment. We've tried teething powders, with mixed results, a gel which was rubbish, and various teething toys, which are of limited use because they're mostly too big for the Boy to fit into his own mouth - he takes them out, can't get them back in, and then gets upset.

The only things that work reliably are parental fingers and paracetamol, although the former is awkward and we are trying to keep the latter for particularly bad teething episodes.

It makes me wonder why we have teeth. I mean, when you think about it, it's a pretty inefficient system. You get some that last for about 5-10 years, at the expense of a great deal of discomfort. Then, they all fall out, and you get the next set of teeth, which are meant to last decades.

And if something happens to one of your adult teeth, you're done. I've got a missing molar because I decided I'd rather do without it than have root canal immediately before and after my wedding. I got it out at 25 and will never get it back.

Hearing the Boy, I wonder if we'd be better without teeth altogether. We'd probably eat far more vegetables, which would be better for the planet. Although I'd miss my steak - maybe toothless humans would cook it and chop it up very finely, like steak tartar, for special occasions?

Or we could regrow teeth every ten or twenty years. This would still leave us stuck with teething pains. And with a lot more extra teeth to dispose of. Too many for the tooth fairy to deal with. You could chuck them, or make them into a necklace, or make them into a model castle or similar.

So, if you had to choose between continually regrowing teeth and no teeth, which would you pick? And, if it was the former, what would you do with all your discarded teeth?

Monday, 3 September 2012


"How did you manage with the, erm, toaster thing?" I asked my sister, when we were at my parents' house.

She frowned. "Well, I managed to heat the bread slightly. But I can't say I managed to toast it."

I think like a lot of older people, my parents get good value and cheapness mixed up. Like, say, if there was a microwave on the shelf at a supermarket for £5 that was shit and came with a high risk of breaking down within a few months, alongside a better one that cost £10, made by a well-known brand that you might expect years of use from, then they would automatically pick the cheaper one. Because it might defy the odds and work well, for a long time - but the balance of probabilities is that it won't.

They seem to have applied the same principle to toasters. The old one was pretty crap. And now it's gone to toaster heaven, they've bought an electric... I hesitate to use the word "grill". But something masquerading as a grill.

It has no redeeming features. It is so small it can barely fit two slices of bread. But, it is also quite tall, so the element manages to be quite some distance away from the toast.

My husband put some plain white in it We managed to do some washing up, fry bacon and poach eggs, put everything else on the table and the bread remained resolutely un-toasted, a couple of degrees warmer, but not even slightly singed.

I asked my Dad about it. He said, looking rather dubious, "Well, it wasn't the best purchase I've ever made. But I thought it looked good in the shop."

Things looked up when we discovered the appliance-disguised-as-a-grill had a booster button. I always think electric things with booster buttons are going to be a bit pants by default - if they're any good, they don't need a booster or a fuel injection or whatever. But finding one meant that we might be able to finish our breakfast and move on with our lives. Excitingly, using the booster button produced toast that was distinctly brown.

Happy to be eating proper toast, we put another two slices on, and, with some anticipation - my life is quite pedestrian nowadays - we continued to eat our breakfast while we waited for the pimped up appliance-disguised-as-a-grill to crisp up our second piece of toast.

We waited, and waited. The bread remained soft, white and virginal. It didn't get remotely warm, even after several minutes. And then it turned out that the fucking grill turned off at the end of the booster period. Like we'd exhausted the amount of toast it was going to produce for that mealtime.

I'm sure the next time we're down the appliance-disguised-as-a-grill will have stopped working and my parents will have bought another piddling, inadequate machine to toast with. Or they will have realised and spent a bit more on a proper toaster that might a) work and b) last. Which would have been the most cost-efficient thing to do in the first place.

I don't really understand why they do this. But I also suspect that I will be doing exactly the same thing in forty years' time.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

People move on

Infertility took its toll on my friendships. Well, some friendships. It seemed to strengthen one set of friendships with people I now know are my true friends. However, there's another set of friends who it did the opposite to.

Ones who never got in touch after pregnancy losses, ask my husband how we were getting on. It also felt, sometimes, like I was a sort of a bad luck charm, a scapegoat for pregnancy loss, and that engaging with me would take the shine off other pregnancies. Maybe that's irrational, maybe not- but I think the "I don't know what to say" excuse for not getting in touch for people who are bereaved or ill could often translate as "I'm irrationally frightened to speak to you in case what happened to you happens to me". Although it was pretty horrible at the time, I've resolved it with myself. Although it's easy to say with hindsight, infertility helped me sort the wheat from the chaff, friendship-wise.

Most of the people who didn't say anything weren't that close friends anyway. And possibly didn't know what to say. Or just weren't that interested. Well, I can live with that. It might make them a bit thoughtless but, well, I've been thoughtless too sometimes.  It just doesn't hurt anymore.

Nearly all of them have been in touch since I had the Boy. And that's fine, it's nice of them to do that.

There's a couple of associates that I still feel rather bitter towards, however. Who knew a bit about the IVF, how long we'd been trying, the full record of losses. They knew because I trusted them enough to tell them.

One in particular knew fine that she should have got in touch after the miscarriages. She went around telling people she would, presumably because it made her look very concerned and deep. When I did see after a particularly heartbreaking loss, she breezed past and went, "Aw, Sushi!". She didn't tell me about her pregnancy, presumably because it was a tiny bit difficult for her. Either that or she thought it would be much easier for me if she just didn't say anything (it wasn't). The next time I saw her she waved from a distance and I thought, just-fuck-off-and-die, and ran in the other direction. Me and my husband sent a congratulations when she had the baby, she didn't get in touch. At the time I probably dwelled on it too much, but it all really, really hurt. All the more so because the stuff she was telling other people, asking for my address to send a card and that sort of thing, suggested she knew exactly how bad it all was but just didn't want to make the effort.

Predictably, she was then madly overly-friendly when I got pregnant. Facebook was about the only method of contact I had with her, and then only on my filtered friend list. She was giving it all "Oooh, your baby's going to have the same birthday as mine!", and that sort of thing. Like she was trying to re-establish a bond, but without making any more effort than writing overly familiar on my status. Like the previous two or three years hadn't happened.

Except, by that point I'd come to the conclusion that I didn't particularly want to have anything to do with her. I still don't. I've moved on from feeling angry about things, a process that had begun before I got pregnant myself. Now, the Boy takes up most of my time and energy and I concentrate on seeing friends I actually like.

I've been, well, not exactly avoiding her - our paths don't cross that much. But there have been a couple of times we have nearly been at the same event. And it's only a matter of time before I decide what to do when I do see her. Which is why I've got a tiny little bit of headspace wondering what to do when I do see her. I don't have the rage, but nor are we friends anymore, and I don't want to play her stupid false friendliness games.

Maybe the answer is to focus on the Boy literally as well as metaphorically. I can just go "hmmm" at her, take him out the room to look at the pretty leaves, or find one of my actual, real mates for us to talk to.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Too much information

This is a poo post. I'm sorry. I thought I would never write one, that the legacy of infertility meant I would remember that poo posts are not interesting. But having blogged about it once, it should get it out my system, so to speak.

I also never believed any of the stuff about what you ate during breastfeeding having an impact on your baby's digestive system. But I think I have learned something.

The story started when I bought a yam. I'd never had a yam before but was curious to try one. So I got one yesterday, peeled it and mashed it and had it with our curry.

Almost immediately after we finished eating, my husband started complaining about wind. I just ignored him, thought he was making it up.

This morning I got up at about 6am to feed the Boy. The Boy doesn't usually need nappy changes between about 8.30pm and 10am - he seems to manage to regulate things to allow him to sleep during these times.

As soon as I left the bed, my husband did the most enormous fart. I huffed at him about how disgusting he was, picked up the Boy and took him to the sofa. As soon as I sat down the Boy's bum made a loud "BRRRRRRAP!" noise. Almost exactly like my husband had.

I fed the Boy, put him back in his cot until he was ready to get up properly, and expressed. About five seconds after my husband got up to use the shower, I suddenly and desperately needed to use the toilet. After when seemed like an eternity my husband finally finished using the shower and took his time toweling himself dry despite my protests, because I'd been grumpy about his earlier trumping.

I went into the shower and my husband did his tummy time with the Boy. This involves putting the Boy on my husband's chest, so he gets used to being on his tummy but still feels secure.

Anyway, when I came out of the shower I heard howls from my husband, and the throaty noise the Boy makes when he is amused.

The Boy had done an exploding poo right on top of my husband, managing to hit both his shirt and trousers. Served him right for taking so long in the shower.

Boy and husband both completely changed, I settled down to look after the Boy for the day. Whereupon he did another exploding poo, and needed yet another completely fresh outfit. And when I tried to get into the bathroom after sorting the Boy out, to wash my hands, it was once again being occupied by my husband.

And so it went all day - mercifully there were no more clothing changes required for anyone, but let's just say it's lucky we'd decided to go up a nappy size at the weekend. That bloody yam has the biggest laxative effect of anything I have ever consumed, and even works second-hand. The Boy was happy enough through all this and it wasn't bad enough to qualify as diarrhea or an upset stomach, but I was getting pretty weary of nappy changes by the time six o'clock rolled around and my husband could take over for a while.

I would love to say that it's all resolved now - and hopefully it is, as the Boy is asleep and the baby monitor is not picking up any ominous rumblings. But the yam was big enough that we still had some for tonight's dinner and I'm programmed not to throw out food, so I fear tomorrow may also be busy. And, lo! as I type this, I can hear my husband farting in the kitchen. A herald of jobbies to come.

More alarmingly, I have carefully pureed and frozen some to give to the Boy when it is time for him to be weaned. I think I'll start with less exotic meals while I build up my courage - if the yam sets us all off while the Boy is being breastfed then it will nerves of steel to give it to him in a less processed form.

I won't blog about his poos afterwards. I promise.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


I got a Kindle a few months ago. Since then I've been trying to rationalise my paperbacks. Beloved ones - my battered Discworld, Dragonlances, Tolkien and, erm, other books that aren't fantasy novels - have been saved. Other random ones have been kept. The rest have been shipped to the charity shop.

The Boy's book collection has been increasing at about the same rate as I'm throwing mine out. He can't understand anything - well, as far as anyone knows. But he does like being sat on me or my husband's knee and read to, for varying lengths of time, determined by his mood and the book. He even had a go at turning a page the other day.

We got some books for him when he was born. Since then, we've picked up a boxed set of Dr Seuss, and various other books.

So I've been clearing out one of my bookcases that's in my room to get shifted through to the Boy's. I've had to sort into three piles. Stuff that should have gone to the charity shop in the first place. Stuff that I definitely want to keep. And the third pile - stuff that's gone straight into the Boy's room.

I've given him the Bromeliad, and the Eagle of the Ninth trilogy. The Chronicles of Narnia, and, when I can figure out where I put my copy, the Hobbit. There's a family tradition of getting read the Hobbit from a young age (and hence all the sword and sorcery novels that clutter up my bookshelf!)

He's too young for most of them now; we will be sticking to Charlotte's Fleece and the Cat in the Hat, and I may steal the odd one back from time to read. But they are his books now. Although I need to figure out a way of stopping wee hands drawing on them before he'd old enough to appreciate them.

It's probably more interesting listing the kids books I've kept. "Bilbo's Last Song" - this was in my brother's book collection, and it still makes me cry when I read it. I've kept the "His Dark Materials" books, for various reasons - they're not really kids' books, at least not for young kids. I suspect all boys think Twilight is a lot of girlie nonsense, so I've kept it for now - I also think that Twilight will be largely forgotten in a decade.

And at some point I'm going to have to work out which Harry Potters are ok to have kicking about for general reading - I think I'd find it difficult to tell the Boy he couldn't have a book once he'd started on them, but then, being old enough to read and comprehend the Philosopher's Stone is probably old enough to understand what's going on by books 3 or 4, but also young enough to find them scary.

Speaking of scary, as a child, I was terrified, for months, after reading a version of Hound of the Baskervilles. I thought there was a shadow on my bedroom wall that looked like a dog's head. I also read the Judge's House - it's only now I've looked it up I know who wrote it or anything about it. I vividly remember being frightened by it, though. At the time I read it, it absolutely scared the beejaysus out of me to the point I had to hide the volume the story was in under some clothes, until it was time to take it back to the library.

But all that is ahead of us, for a while.

So, which books are forever in your not-for-chucking pile? Which frightened you as a child?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The House of Flowers

Funny place, Belgrade. If you give it a cursory glance, it just looks like any other Western European capital - McDonalds, pavement cafes, the usual. Make the tiniest scratch into the surface and you realise it's very different.

Outside the city centre, it can be difficult to get a menu in a Latin alphabet. The national museum has pieces of a downed US fighter plane on display - when you look at the bombed office block in town, you can understand why.

When we visited, there were no cheap airlines that flew there - the many excellent bars and restaurants avoided that sameness that can afflict those in places colonised by Brits on Ryanair weekends. There is an Irish pub, but it's bizarrely called the "Three Carrots" because there was some sort of mistranslation regarding shamrocks (although there's a Serbian version of the Pogues, called the Orthodox Celts, which are apparently immensely popular). It seems somehow seems dated for all this, but also more original and engaging.

On one hand, the last Balkan war is so recent that it and the debate over Serbia's future means that it overshadows the Yugoslavian era. But, on the flip side, Belgrade is only developing contemporary tourist attractions - it's a lovely place for a meal and a drink, but there's a shortage of things to see. So, we visited Tito's Mausoleum.

It's actually a much bigger complex than just one museum. There's three, altogether. The gardens were a little overgrown when we went. The fountain, which must have been a cutting edge piece of sculpture in its day, was almost dry and had the odd bit of litter floating in the remaining water.

Although the garden had seen better days, the first museum we visited, the museum of 25th May, was excellent. It had a wing dedicated to the communist era of Yugoslavia. Which was interesting, although I'd covered a lot of the material studying communism at university.

More surprising and unusual was the temporary exhibit. Which was about John Lennon! "Give Peace a Chance" and other of Lennon's songs played over the loudspeakers as we wandered around. The gist of it was that Lennon had sent Tito seeds of a tree to plant in the Peace Park. It was strange, but immensely cool and a good way of getting across Tito's links with the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War - and totally not what we expected!

The mausoleum itself - the actual House of Flowers - was a bit more traditional. Tito's tomb - the Yugoslavs hadn't embalmed him in the classic Soviet style, so it was a normal marble affair. There was a recreation of Tito's office too. More interesting, there was a display of batons. Which sounds tremendously dull but wasn't. Baton races were held by young people all over Yugoslavia to mark Tito's birthday. Some of the batons were incredibly ornate, with hammer and sickle motifs, or friezes that reflected the origin of the baton - pastoral scenes, sailing boats, as well as more industrial themes.

And, finally, there was the Museum of Stuff That People Gave Tito. It wasn't called that, but that was what it was! There were African headdresses, Oriental rugs, and other beautiful items from other heads of state. Then there were more personal items that people from across Yugoslavia had sent him - knitted mittens from a peasant woman, sheepskins, wine, and other hand crafted objects.

My main memory of this last section is being followed by security guard. Everything was behind glass and there was absolutely no way we could even touch it, let alone steal it. But this uniformed chap followed us around at a fairly indiscreet distance, presumably in case we managed a Mission Impossible style heist and left with our short pockets bulging with ceremonial daggers and embroidered handkerchiefs. Or maybe the poor bloke was just bored.

Anyway, I bought the Cookbook I mentioned in my last post. It's fascinating. Tito ate lobster with Nixon, and shashlik kebabs with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Ceaucescu was entertained over cheese and egg soup while Tito was served goulash and grilled chicken by Stalin.

I was going to post one of the recipes, but I suspect that they have possibly lost something in translation - they seem to have fewer herbs and seasoning then I'd expect. So, if you want to try the barbecue food that the Queen was given on her first visit to a communist country, then the book says they had cevapcici, and pljeskavica, along with kajmak (cream cheese - I tend to blend cottage cheese, lemon and pepper rather than making my own) and pittas for dipping, and a salad. They go well with chicken and bacon parcel things, which aren't given in the book but are very nice!

I don't know if or when we'll ever go back to Belgrade, although I would like to, someday.  I suspect we saw it in a state of rapid change, and that the handover of Serbian war criminals for trial will eventually mean Belgrade will become a mainstream destination. But it was fascinating visiting when we did.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The hoarder

I love cookbooks.

I've got a few mainstream celebrity chef books. Particular favourites are Feast by Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater's appetite, the first Hairy Bikers' cookbook, and Jamie Oliver's Italy.

But I also love my books that cover particular geographic areas. There are few more enjoyable ways to find out about a foreign land than eating its food. I've got Indian, Thai, Polish, Hungarian, North American, Moroccan, English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, a couple of pan-African cookbooks and books that cover the Balkans, South African, Scottish, Irish, Mexican and Spanish. And Georgian, French, and Belgian.

Just listing them makes me realise how many places I'd like to cover but don't already; Korea, Jamaica, Scandinavia, West Africa, Serbia, Mozambique, New Zealand and Australia (although, oddly, the only Australian dish I can think of is the pie floater!). 

I also covet books on specific ingredients and techniques. I've got books covering mince, slow cookers, canapes, pasta, baking and chicken. But I can easily persuade myself that I need books on sausage making, barbecues, potatoes, fish and, well, just about anything else.

My absolute favourite for looking at is Tito's Cookbook. I got it in Belgrade, at Tito's Mausoleum. It's fascinating, with photos of Tito meeting celebrities and world leaders- people you'd want to have dinner with, like JFK, Elizabeth Taylor, as well as those who you definitely wouldn't, like Saddam Hussein and Ceaucescu -, as well as the menu that they ate and selected recipes to try. Okay, it's maybe not the best actual cookbook in the collection, but it's a tiny glimpse into a fascinating life.

Apart from a few select titles, I'm moving the rest of my library to Kindle. But I doubt I'll ever let go of my cookery book collection. I love the photos - but there's also practical benefits too. I don't think Kindles and kitchens mix very well. My books can cope with a little bit of flour and sauce in a way that my Kindle probably can't.

Now the Boy is a little bit bigger, I'm trying to spend some time actually cooking recipes from the books, rather than just reading. I used to cook loads and lost the urge during early pregnancy, and never regained it until now. We've had  jerk chicken, salmon curry, empire biscuits, chilli, a tomato and rice bake, halloumi and beetroot, feta, mint and pea tart and sweet and sour chicken.

It's all good (well, the jerk chicken and rice and beans meal wasn't the best, and gave me horrendous oniony farts. But it was worth trying, anyway). Tomorrow we are having a poached salmon salad.

I sometimes think my husband would prefer mince and potatoes though, and is too polite to say!

What are you cooking today

Monday, 20 August 2012


Before the Boy, I spent a lot of time with the cat. I promised myself that she'd always get attention, always. Because she'd been our faithful companion through the worst of times and I didn't want to let her down.

I did, of course. Not to the point that she was actually neglected - she always got her biscuits, her food, water, a clean litter tray and a berth in our bed at night, and treats when I remembered. But, inevitably, there has been less time to stroke her and make a fuss of her.

Gradually, she became a bit more withdrawn. Not sitting on my husband's knee at night, not sitting next to me on the sofa while the Boy napped.

I didn't think about it much. Until the other night, when we woke up, I fed the Boy, and started making breakfast. And then my husband said, where's the cat?

We rattled the biscuit box, which is usually enough to summon her. Nothing. We couldn't remember if she'd gotten into bed with us, although I had given her some cat treats the night before.

We looked in the cupboard with the camping kit, in the big cupboard with the computer junk. Under the bed, under the cot. In the Boy's room. Nothing.

My husband went outside to look. We couldn't work out how she could have gotten out, but we were getting frantic.

Through all this the Boy sat and smiled benignly, and I felt terribly guilty.

Eventually I found her curled up behind the door in our room. She gave a faint miaow when I touched her and was listless when I picked her up. Then, when I put her down on the bed, she skulked off and hid again.

She was obviously just not herself, and I was frightened something was badly wrong with her. She's never been sick before.

My husband took her to the vet. We'd normally both have gone, but it seemed ludicrous for both of us and the Boy to take her.

We're still not sure what was wrong. The vet took her temperature and said she had a fever. She had an ibuprofen (or something like it) injection.

To my intense relief, she came home and has been perkier ever since. She still keeps her distance a little, but is joining in more with family life - she was back on the sofa with me today.

Better still, my husband was playing a game with the Boy with a plastic wire ball, putting it just out of reach on his side and encouraging him to roll over to grab it. The cat realised what was going on and began headbutting the ball towards the Boy!

So, it's been a happy ending. But I think it's been a lesson to me to appreciate the cat more. Picking her up and seeing her looking so ill and sad made me realise how much I've been missing.

And now I am off to bed a little early, to schedule in some cat time.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Crying Game

For the first few weeks of the Boy's life, he cried when he was hungry, or needed a nappy change. Although these crying episodes were more frequent than now, at least you had a 50% chance of being able to fix what it was that he was unhappy about.

As time has gone on, sources of upset have become more complex and harder to fix. Recent ones, as far as we can work out, have been:

  • He gets bored in his carry cot. We need to walk under trees so he can see the branches above, or hold him in our arms, to make him calm down.
  • He can't grab one of his toys that hang in front of his bouncy chair in his little, chubby hands. A felt snail that came with the chair is particularly likely to incur his wrath.
  • There are no toys hanging in front of his bouncy chair to grab onto. Especially the snail, which he has a love/hate relationship with.
  • The clockwork frog bath toy my mother got him. He hates it. He watched while we held it in the air above him and looked dubious. My husband put it into the bath behind him and it swam into his hand. He went nuts and was off kilter for the rest of bath and towelling time.
  • Some books that we read to him. Not all books. The Cat in the Hat is fine. "Oh, the Places You'll Go", a lesser known Dr Seuss offering, makes him cry. (NB. I am aware that it's probably just the tone of voice, him being tiny and all, but he does genuinely seem to take against some books and enjoy others. But then, I quite like Lord of the Rings but have to mentally restrain myself from defacing "Fifty Shades of Grey" advertising stands, so maybe there is something more to it).
  • He is very tired, but there is something interesting happening with the TV/the cat/the lights that he doesn't want to miss.
  • He is very tired, but the wrong parent puts him to bed. How could we??? This incurs a screaming fit that completely wakes him up again.
It is all worth it though. He isn't a crying baby at all, despite what I've written. It's just fascinating and frustrating, in equal measure, watching what upsets him. And reassuring him is easy.

Although, he is always beautifully calm when he wants to charm old ladies, workmates other random passers-by. Stuff you would think would be really upsetting, like the vacuum cleaner or John Travolta in Hairspray, he doesn't mind at all. And one smile at the end of a wailing fit is enough to make my heart melt.

I wish the Boy and the snail would make it up, though.  The frog is a bridge too far.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Wean's world

Weaning time is almost upon us. And by weaning, I mean the gradual process of introducing solids, rather than getting the Boy immediately off breastmilk (weaning apparently means different things in different versions of English).

I'm quite excited about it. I have an extensive collection of recipe books, and am looking forward to getting the Boy enthusiastic about eating good food, doing baking, and learning more about where food comes from. I've been re-reading the "children's food" chapter in my Nigella Lawson books, and have a couple of specialist books on weaning, as well as finally buying the Hairy Biker's family cookbook (a book subtitled "Mums know best", which I found cut me like a knife when I was going through IVF treatment).

But, anyway, much of that is a longer-term project. For now, the immediate concern is when to start giving him solid food. This is the confusing bit.

Everyone seems to agree that babies should get nothing but milk until 17 weeks. Which is fine. After that, it gets a bit more hazy.

At the hospital, some of the midwives said that, although the government's line was 6 months until solids, that they thought there was a good case for introducing them a bit earlier.

Since I got out of hospital, most, although not all, of the health professionals I've come across have been manically advocating the 26 weeks rule.

I'd done a bit of reading myself - my family are prone to food allergies, so I wanted to make sure. Then I found a study saying that there was evidence that waiting until 26 weeks can actually cause allergies.

I asked one of the weaning experts about this, and she said something like "but our guidelines are from WHO which do the whole world so they're right", and said that if there were allergies in my family I should definitely wait until 6 months (she actually gave the impression I should maybe start thinking about weaning by the time the Boy is about 30).

As far as I know, the US and France recommend weaning at 4 months, and there's an argument that later weaning is of more benefit in countries without a reliably clean water supply. And no-one knows what causes allergies, so it seemed a bit of a leap for her to imply that they were definitely related to introducing solids before 26 weeks (I always trust health professionals more if they admit they actually don't know something! Some of them always, always make stuff up rather than letting you think they are not all-knowing).

On the other hand, my family all seem to be quite competitive about who can wean their babies earliest, and think that waiting until even 17 weeks is ludicrous. It is political correctness gone mad, and never did any of us any harm. And all our allergies are caused by "genetics" and are not remotely to do with early weaning. I pointed out that they couldn't actually know this for sure but got a dirty look for my trouble.

I'd love to put the weaning expert woman and my relatives in the same room and watch them fight it out. The winner would get to give the Boy a rusk. Or not.

Anyway, presumably as long I'm not pureeing up donner kebabs over the next week and getting the Boy to wash them down with some Pepsi Max then we will probably be ok.

But I'd love to know what the guidelines are where you are!

Monday, 13 August 2012


About a week after we got the Boy home, I had an episode where I woke up late at night, with a tight feeling in my ribcage. I felt sick - and was sick - a couple of times. I took some painkillers and went back to bed. I just assumed it was some sort of trapped gas from the section.

Otherwise, I felt pretty good. I lost the pregnancy weight very quickly and recovered from the section well. I didn't think I had anything to worry about.

Then the pain happened once, twice, three times more. Just randomly, not on consecutive nights. Eventually, about six weeks ago, I asked the GP about it. She put me on some meds and said that being pregnant might have damaged my stomach lining. And that to take the meds and that, hopefully, they'd clear it up.

So, I did. I kept forgetting to take the pills, but I did get through the packet. During that time  I felt a bit achy during the day a couple of times, and got sick after a pub lunch one day. But I was really hoping that there would be nothing else wrong - I've had my fill of hospitals.

Last night, we had pizza and chips as a treat. And in the middle of the night, at about 4am, I woke up with very bad pains. I couldn't find the painkillers without waking everyone else up. So I sat on the sofa, read, tried to go back to bed, was still in pain and finally, at about 5.30am, the Boy woke up anyway. So I had the paracetamol and went back to bed.

This time I managed to sleep until about half past 8. On previous occasions, the pain had stopped - this time, the painkillers had masked it enough for me to sleep but it was still there.

I swithered about going to A&E but decided it really wasn't that bad. I phoned NHS 24, after answering a few questions, the nurse said she reckoned I have gallstones.

I looked online and everything fits. Gallstones seem to commonly appear after pregnancy and rapid weight loss. Once they're there, episodes of pain often occur after eating fatty foods - and had takeaways at the weekends in the Boy's first few weeks, which was when I was more likely to be afflicted. Thinking back, afternoons where I've felt a bit of low level pain or sickness tended to be after I'd had a bigger than usual lunch. It all fits.

While it's a painful and annoying condition, I don't seem to have it as acutely as other people. Ditching the occasional takeout will help my weight loss efforts - I'm now trying to shift the weight I gained during IVF cycles. So it just forces me to be a bit more healthy for the time being.

I'm almost less enthusiastic about the treatment, which for most people seems to be removing the gall bladder. I won't be able to lift the Boy for a while afterwards, and it gives you a dodgy stomach when you recover, apparently.  It almost sound like more hassle that just dealing with the odd bout of stomach pain. But having said that, I can feel an ache in my stomach even 12 hours after I first woke up, and the gall bladder may only get more angry if it's left.

'Angry' is the wrong word, though. Semingly tricky gall bladders are "grumbling"! The thing is sitting in my stomach going "Fuck sake, I tried to tell her not to have pizza. But oh no no. Silly cow did it anyway. And now I'm down here being sluggish. Grumble grumble grumble."

It's funny - after treatment and pregnancy I thought I wouldn't have any more medical appointments for a while. If I do need to get my gall bladder out, it feels like I'll need a season ticket to the operating theatre. And at least I've got a fairly good idea of what clothes to take.  I'll just have to wait and see though, maybe it won't come to that.

Maybe Mr Grumbles will perk up a bit if he gets some sushi and stir fries, and start singing "Always look on the bright side of life".