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.