Thursday, 19 December 2013

The mysteries of the deep fat fryer

Mali's response to my last post about deep fried pizzas made me want to do a blog post on something that's been fairly standard to my life, but probably seems a bit weird to everyone else. When I did a foreign language class at school and people asked the teacher how to say they worked in a chip shop, he used to reply that there wasn't a direct translation

I don't know why he didn't just tell us to say "fast food outlet", or similar, but anyway, this is a post to illustrate how to order in one.

First, you must pick your item to be deep fried. In rough groupings, they are:

Fish - round here, it's usually haddock and sometimes there's a choice of cod and plaice too, as well as others. Haddock is the preferred option - my Dad told me that "cod eat all the shite off the bottom of the sea", which put me off it. Fish is always fried in batter, apart from "special fish", which is slightly more expensive and comes coated in orange breadcrumbs. Scampi is usually from the freezer and comes ready-breaded.

Meat products - Some of these come without batter; smoked sausage and chicken. "Normal" sausage comes in batter, as does haggis and black pudding and king rib. King rib I've never had, but it's not a rib, it's some sort of reconstituted pork product and is apparently not very nice. Burgers can either come in batter or not.

Pies - Oh yes, we deep fry pies. Usually mutton pies, but also steak pies and macaroni cheese pies. In the chippy I used to work in, the owner used to let her dog into the cold store and a customer once found one of its hairs in her lunch.

Pizzas - the prompt for this post. I think most people probably think that a deep fried pizza is a regular pizza that's fried. However, chip shops usually use a fairly low quality pizza that's basically a big bit of bread with some cheese, and possibly onion, on top. The accompanying chips usually stick to the cheese. Deep fried pizza can be unbattered or battered and come in half or whole portions. Battered deep fried pizza is called "pizza crunch" in some places.

Chocolate bars - this is actually a bit of a myth. The only time I've ever heard of anyone having a deep fried Mars Bar was in a chip shop where I worked and one of the staff cooked one as an experiment. They're sometimes advertised in chip shops that get a lot of tourist trades, and I believe may be consumed in the North East.

If you order one of the above items as a "single", then that's all you get. Asking for a "fish supper" means you will get it with chips.

The fryer will place whatever you have ordered into the hot, bubbling fat - it used to be beef dripping, but nowadays vegetable oil is more normal.

Then there are a choice of accompaniments and sides. These normally include:

Curry sauce - normally a sort of browny yellow gravy, not dissimilar from Chinese takeaway type curry. However, I did once order chips and curry sauce from a combined Indian and chip shop takeaway and they'd run out of sauce and asked me if I wanted "Indian curry sauce" instead, which made us both smile (actually, it was very nice; it had actual coriander in it and may have had a nutritional value that wasn't made up entirely of carbs and fat).

Mushy peas - these are mashed up peas that have been chemically altered to made them lurid green and very sweet. I can't abide them.

Then there are usually beans, coleslaw, gravy and cheese.

When the main bit of your supper is cooked, the fryer will place it on a cardboard box, and an assistant will ladle over some chips, if you want me.

Just before you get your food, the assistant will ask if you want any condiments. Where I come from, "salt and vinegar?" is normal, and you can ask for tomato sauce that's been heavily watered down with vinegar.

On the other side of the country, you get asked if you want "salt and sauce", the sauce in question being brown sauce that's been mixed with vinegar.

The differences between condiments in different areas is a very heated question, and has led to allegations of human rights abuses.

Having navigated this fraught territory, the assistant will wrap your purchase in paper - seventeen years on, I still remember being taught how to do this - and you will go on your way. The smell when you open the paper will be delicious, and whatever you've ordered is best eaten by the sea.

The whole thing is a bit weird, when you think about it - not just the sauce/vinegar debate, but the question of why some items always come battered and others don't.

Some chippies are much posher, of course; some do more kinds of fish, some do gluten free batter. Some - whisper it - even grill things.

So now you can confidently stroll into a chip shop and order a pizza crunch supper.

PS - forgot. You can order a "fish tea" in some places, which constitutes battered fish, chips, a slice of buttered white bread and a pot of tea, and usually either beans or mushy peas. I had never  encountered this before working in a chippy. I think I used to put a bit of lemon on it, for the vitamans, like.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The promised land

We are here. In our new white-picket-fence haven. Well, not literally white picket fence, but you get the idea - a street full of houses with families, Father Christmas and carol singers doing the rounds. The local community is to be awash with people volunteering to help other people, either locally or far away. It's very nice.

There's an excellent second hand bookshop, all manner of nice food shops, and some tasteful knick knacky gifty shops you only get in more affluent places. As opposed to less well off areas, where you get tasteless knick knack shops, like the one where we used to live that sold garish ornaments and lighters with naked ladies on.

It all feels a bit strange. But in a good way.

On the plus side, we've moved to an area with better housing. W People seem very friendly.

On the other hand, I'm sure next door will be wondering why we haven't returned their Christmas card (I so need to!). I think there will be more "keeping up with the Jonses" style competitiveness here, both materialistically and socially.

Other observations - the weather matters more here than it does in the inner city; there sees to be more outside. Not the great outdoors, exactly, but more than the minimal encounters with the elements you face when you live two minutes away from a train station and bus stop.

More people drive, but there are fewer fat people. I am really hoping some of this rubs off and I start to lose weight. Although part of this is that access to healthy food is easier; even the takeaways do low fat food (low fat here apparently meaning more than not putting batter on your deep fried pizza).

The Boy and the Cat are both fine. Both of them have different ways of approaching the novelty of having stairs. The Boy loves the stairs and will merrily spend his time crawling or walking up and down them - his upward crawling efforts are particularly rewarding, as he gives a hearty grunt when he pulls himself up onto each tread.

The Cat, having spent most of her life in one-level apartments, with occasional holidays to houses where she wasn't allowed downstairs on account of there being a resident dog, isn't coping as well. She sits at the top and peers down at us, and the Boy usually spots her and chases her. Sometimes she comes down to make emergency visits to her food dish and litter tray - but she seems to think that downstairs isn't for her.  We had planned to introduce her to Outside, but this might take a while.

Me, I wait until everyone goes to bed and then bum shuffle up and down between the landing and living room, cackling wildly.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Yay! We are moving. Starting tomorrow.

Broker trauma aside, it is a bit funny, leaving our flat.

When we moved here, we had an inkling we might need IVF. We can now reasonably say we're veterans.

When we moved think we had been used to student style moves. This meant that you had a couple of boxes and a couple of bin liners to get shifted. We got married not before we moves here and got a load of wedding presents, which are all lovely, but realistically meant that our tried and tested moving techniques didn't work anymore. We got into this really stupid situation on our moving day that we needed to ask the removal company - ie, a white van man and his pal -to do a couple of runs so we could empty our belongings out, and reuse the cardboard box for another go. All the boxes were from Lidl or similar, meaning they had holes in them. I think the whole concept of hiring crates or boxes was unknown to us.  

I am sure the next couple of days and weeks will show us as being equally inadequate to own a house rather than a flat.

When we moved here, we had no cat. We also, more to the point, had no Boy. The Boy's last day at nursery is tomorrow. He loves it and I am really sad to move him. I also know he would be even sadder at moving in a year, or two years, or three years, when he is getting increasingly more able to establish relationships. But I know he will miss nursery.

The cat has been shipped to a relative as she will be more worried by the ongoing move, rather than any disruption to her routine. I am hoping she'll be alright about finding her household relocated somewhere else with more space.

Anyway, I better go to bed. Thanks for everyone's comments about the mortgage episode - there's far more I could write about but it would be too identifying.

But, hopefully everyone has a very peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Tick tock

It is less than 24 hours until we have to sign for our house.

Still no agreement. We were promised one "in 15 minutes" at 4.50pm, after a fuckup with the paperwork on the mortgage company's part; they sent an agreement through for the wrong amount.

The broker doesn't answer calls after 5 so we don't know if he got it. I know weekends are sancrosant and no-one should work outwith their working hours, yadayadayada, but I bloody well do long hours if it is important, and part of the reason we afford his fees is that I do this. So I feel a bit Daily Mail Reader about this.

Oh, and before that, yesterday I got a message at 4.35 saying that if I got copies of my bank statement to him before 5 it'd definitely come through today. I got the paperwork through, but given I had no access to a PC at the time, this involved texting my bank login details to my husband so he could do it at his desk, as I was in town and was on the way to pick up the Boy from my Mum.

I am really hoping it will be done. There will be hell to pay if it is not, but I don't even want to contemplate that right now.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The lost world

This blog seems to be turning into one solely about moving house, so I thought I'd blog about a recent thought provoking trip to a Central European city.

There are hardly any Jewish people where I live; I can tell you stories of people using racist language about Pakistani, Chinese or black African people, but not Jews. Because it would be a bit like being prejudiced against people from Alaska or Argentina or Azerbaijan; I don't doubt the capacity to be anti Semitic is there, but, given racists are inherently smallminded, they're not going to be imaginative enough to boil up hatred for a people they've never met.

So, while I'm not ignorant of the Holocaust by any means - I went to the Anne Frank House, have read about it extensively, seen the photos, watched films - I realised during the last visit that the context I understood the Holocaust in was hopelessly incomplete.

We went to the Jewish Museum in the city we were in. I'd - perhaps naively - thought it was mostly going to be a museum about Jewish lift in the Middle Ages, and so we bought tickets and brought the Boy.

The first section of the museum was a Holocaust memorial. Every known victim's name and date of birth was recorded. There were thousands of names. I began weeping at the scale of the murder.

Fortunately, the Boy was quiet, but he started chirping and grumbling away to himself. The immensely kind lady at one of the sections gave him a leaflet to play with and pulled faces at him. Which was tremendously kind of her.

The next section was a display of items from the concentration camp, by which point the Boy was getting quite loud so we pulled him straight out. And I was mortified; I'm sure some people must go to this museum to on a pilgrimate to try and find an understand of the fate of relatives, and I still feel bad about not doing more research and thinking this was a good thing to take a toddler to.

Then we went around the Jewish Cemetery, which, ironically, the Nazi had decreed should not be destroyed, so it could inform future generations about the Jews.

It was - massive is the wrong word - but dense with tombstones. Because the city once had a thriving Jewish population, but for most of the centuries they'd been there, they'd only been allowed to be buried in a comparatively tiny plot. I'd understood, on paper, that Jewish people had been persecuted through the centuries, but this put my understanding in context. I'd never seen a Jewish cemetery in any of the other Central and Eastern European lands I've visited, perhaps because they were destroyed.

Two days before we went to the Jewish Museum, we stopped at a pub in the beautiful old town square. The Boy had gone for a nap and we had a drink and watched the elaborate Christmas lights being set up. As the sun set, we heard the Jewish call to prayer begin.

The link between the Jewish people that had lived in the city, combined with the display of the number of people killed in the Holocaust, and the much-reduced Jewish population now, made me begin to realise how genocide has shaped the face of European cities.

The city was full of tourists from across Europe, particularly Germany, and Asia for the Christmas Markets; people of all nationalities, just like the lady in the Jewish Museum, looked out for the Boy. An elderly gentleman chuckled at him trying to drink my husband's beer, another woman told us off for not having him wrapped up warmly enough.

People from everywhere are generally kind and care about small children, and it is incomprehensible that many people from different countries and professionals colluded together from the Holocaust that killed so many innocent people, presumably including some of the elderly relatives of the people who cooed at the Boy.

I will have to teach the Boy about the Holocaust, one day. But, although my knowledge of it grows, I will never be able to answer all of his questions about it, because I cannot answer my own.

The waiting game

Mr Cuntypants has still not arranged finance for the house move. He's given us various assurances that the morgage companies involved had escalated our case and would look at them last week, but these have all fallen through.

He is still 'confident' that he'll arrange finance, but has said it will be a good idea to let the sellers know we might not be able to complete. Lovely.

It just feels horrible. I don't know what happens if the move doesn't happen - all the services we rely on here, from our broadband to our storage to the Boy's nursery place have been cancelled, as we didn't expect to need them. We've also ordered furnite to be delivered to our new place, and a removals van. Presumably the sellers can also sue us if the move falls through.

The loan gap is too much for us to put it on a credit card, and we're running out of time to arrange alternative finance. We have offered to put in more capital, and both of us are in the process of getting more hours from employers, so have asked them to give us stuff in writing confirming this.

My husband, while he is also worried, thinks I am being overly fretful and that he will sort it out.  I really hope so.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

My mortgage broker is a cunt

There are many things that have happened in the past month. But tonight, I am going to dedicate this post to my mortgage advisor, Mr Cuntypants.

Several weeks ago, we got a house move date. We advised Mr Cuntypants of this. At the time, he seemed normal.

He asked us for various ID. We provided these quickly, as our lawyer advised that 6 weeks was not long.

He asked us for more ID, some of which contained information already in the previous batch. We provided this and he applied for a mortgage.

Then - and this is the bit that alarm bells began to sound, faintly - we were turned down for the mortgage on the basis that even although our combined incomes well exceeded the minimum amount required, the mortgage company needed one of us to earn a higher proportion from one income source.

This is the sort of thing a mortgage advisor should know before applying, no? But he made a big deal that he hadn't paid a non refundable £300 fee upfront.

Mr Cuntypants said that this was ok, we would still move, and applied for another mortgage. This required more ID.

We asked if we were still ok to move. He insisted we were, so we made all the arragements associated with moving a household to a different community.

Today, ahead of the move, our lawyer pointed out we still had no mortgage, something that had been niggling away at me, but Mr Cuntypants had assured us was ok.

We began calling his office for updates. Halfway through, he e-mailed us - one of the things that makes him particularly cunty is that he refuses to call - and said, actually, he didn't know if we could move next week. Because the mortgage company had lost our paperwork.


After more e-mails, offering to put in more cash upfront, and asking him to speak to the mortgage company on our behalf, he announced that, actually, we might still be able to move after all.

But we won't know until Friday.


Thursday, 7 November 2013

What's been happening

So, since I last blogged...

  • We have a house moving date, next month. 
Yay! The sellers got back to us and it is about 75% done; we just need to get some papers into the mortgage people and then that's hopefully it. Well, apart from the whole booking a removal van, changing names on the electrics, repainting and recarpeting our apartment and finding a tenant... minor stuff like that. We're moving an hour away; I know in some countries people drive an hour to get the Sunday papers, but this is moving to a totally different town and community for us.
  • My parents have become utterly infuriating. 

My Dad didn't appear to have had a stoke but has "thickening around the brain", and has had stroke-like symptoms. However, having the stroke tests come up negative have made my folks decide they're fine and dandy to go on an independent holiday a 12 hour flight away.

 Despite the fact that they find it increasingly difficult to do a day or overnight trip to two nearby cities, and that a 12 hour flight is a long way away if my Dad has one of his turns and, even if its a wobble rather than a catastophe, a day's solid travelling is a long time if you don't know how ill he is... oh, I don't know. I could shake them.

Mum still keeps acting like my Dad is at death's door too. "He gets very sore and achy when he's tired," she said sonorously, a couple of hours after telling us about their travel plans. So why are you both hellbent on carrying on like you're both in your 20s, then?

  • I am fat
I keep putting weight on, despite attempts to keep it down. I'm hoping moving to a different community where I have to walk to the shops will help.

  • The Boy is fine
He is a cool dude, y'know. He can say "shoe" and "dada" and "mama". He had a  tantrum in the supermarket when he wasn't allowed to run amok in the toy department, but resolved it by trying to shoplift some Edam. He loves stamping in puddles, too, and taking off his lovingly hand-knitted hat. I hope the move will be good for him.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


There are many things for me to worry about. We should get the paperwork for our house move soon. I need to give up my main job. My Dad hasn't had a stroke but we're not sure what's wrong with him. Our flat is a total mess and the carpet resembles Mr Twit's beard. The Boy is obsessed with getting ducks in the park to fight over bread, while I fret about the swans getting to close to him.

I have been feeling very stressed about things. But then, it is the time of year that I also think about the summer holidays. I have looked at a couple of different places and have fallen in love.

I have fallen in love with Wroclaw. I cannot pronounce it. I don't know anything about it. But it looks like a beautiful gingerbread-esque Mitteleuropean city, which apparently has relatively few tourists.

And, and, there's another city we can combine with it, Gdansk, which I have long wanted to see. AND we can get a sleeper between the two. I love sleeper trains, and the romance of falling asleep in one city and waking in another. And we can see a bit of the Baltic Coast and also the national parks in the south.

So, rather than worrying about things that are actually in front of me, I have been doing my husband's head in by gabbling to him incessantly about Poland. I have just bought a book so I can learn Polish, and am about to look again for pictures of beautiful architecture.

I think when I face up to the reality of taking a toddler to a country where I cannot speak the language, it may seem less attractive. But at the moment the thought of escaping on holiday is keeping me going.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


We took the Boy out for a toddle in the park, then lunch, then shopping. He did pretty well; he didn't have as much freedom to wander around as he wanted (two weeks ago he refused to walk unless he was holding a parental finger, but he now does his "talk to the hand" routine if we try to get him to walk hand in hand), but he was constantly entertained by other extended family members until the post-lunch shopping.

Up until now, he has been entertained by seeing things in town. But I think these days are gone.
 He wants to be doing.

I dashed about the big pharmacist, a fancy accessories shop, and then we went to the Lego shop.

The Lego shop was hot, and noisy, and brightly lit, and busy. I was buying for a younger relative who had cunningly asked me for something she must have known was just a bit over budget. Given the number of extended relatives and the need to be fair, I couldn't buy her this and stay in budget, so had to dash around the shop finding acceptable.

Meantime, I suggested my husband let the Boy out to walk around and look at the play tables.

I finally found something, attempted to buy it, realised my credit card was in my coat pocket which was in the pram, retrieved the card and said to my husband we were good to go, then queued again and paid.

By the time I got back, the Boy was roaring blue murder. He didn't want to go in the pushchair and was arching his back and shouting "RAAAH! RAAAH! RAAH!"

He had apparently made a beeline for the Duplo table, then done a circuit of the shop, then returned to the Duplo. My husband had tried and failed to retrieve the Lego store Duplo from him, and I had to grab him off them and return them while my husband held him.

It did help that another, slightly older woman in the shop gave me a knowing smile when I was wrestling him for the Duplo, and then started giggling when he completely refused to go in the pram. I know this sounds like Bad Parenting and that you should somehow be able to force them to bend to your will, but really, if a boisterous toddler starts employing the sort of tactics used by peace protestors when they're being arrested (making themselves go dead, wriggling, refusing to be restrained), you've kind of had it.

I did offer to buy Duplo but by that point it would have meant a) giving in to a tantrum and b) queuing in the hot, sweaty shop while the Boy raged.

All the time, the "RAAH! RAAH! RAAH!" was going on.

I picked him up and carried him away from the shop and, seeing as he was wriggling to get off, I put him on his feet (remember, he only started walking with no adult stabiliser very recently).

He immediately started weaving a crazy path through the shopping centre, still shouting "RAAAH!" and refusing to acknowledge me. I followed him.

I know there's this worry when toddlers kick off that it is terribly stressful; but really, I thought it was more funny than anything else (is this Bad Parenting? I thought that as long as he wasn't actually hurting anyone, no-one was hurting him, and he was merely going in for public humiliation, that no harm would be done).

I did get slightly worried when he veered into a mobile phone shop full of attractive, expensive and breakable gadgets that I'd either trigger an aftershock tantrum by refusing to let him touch anything, or a sales assistant would ask what we were doing and I'd have to explain the whole Duplo/anger situation, but by that point the rage had almost petered out.

I scooped him up and, after some token resistance to being strapped in to his pushchair, he seemed happy with some milk. And has been fine for the rest of the day.

Well, lesson learned. Try to figure in more child friendly things, and let him walk more in between times. And never take him to big, shiny, noisy toy shops without buying anything.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A good dream

When I get stressed I blog, and I have strange dreams. I also have a massive spot on the side of my face, which I'm guessing may be related, but its the dream I had last night I was going to blog about.

I dreamed we had moved and I went in for the last day at one of my jobs, the one I've wanted out of for a long time. Everyone else was firing up their PCs as I came to say goodbye.

Then, bizarrely, loads of people from school seemed to be working at the office, although they were all the same age as I am now.

One girl who I used to be friends with but then had a very bitter teenage fallout with her. Her and another girl who were my bestest friends stopped talking to me for no great reason but would occasionally e-mail me to taunt me, and seemed to think they could go on tormenting me because I'd be desperate to be friends with them, until I completely cut contact; well, as much as I could living in the same small, remote community.

My small hometown is close enough that I find out if something major has happened in her life, and I'm sure she finds out the same about me. I haven't seen her in over a decade and haven't really spared her many thoughts in the same time.

Anyway, she explained that someone had texted her a complaint about the organisation so she'd texted back saying it was my fault, and showed me the text message.

I can't remember what the complaint was about, but the message was blaming me and saying that she couldn't be expected to remember things as she was pregnant. Our conversation then went something like:

"That's absolutely bollocks, and even worse that you 've blamed it on being pregnant."

She replied with "You're just jealous because you can't get pregnant again, and I'm having a girl which you really want. You're just totally bitter and past it."

By this point I became aware that everyone, including all the school cool kids, were listening in.

I said, "I'm in a much better place about the infertility and miscarriages now. And I'm not as past it as your marriage."

Then she stammered that that was "below the belt", and I said "Well, if you don't like it fuck off and don't speak to me, I'm happy the way I am without your shit."

An everyone looked impressed at me winning the argument, and my husband suddenly appeared in the way that people do in dreams, and I took his arm and we sauntered off for lunch.

That was an ace dream, wasn't it? I woke up feeling much better about everything, and then later the estate agent called to say the sellers were getting a move on with finding somewhere else to live and we might come to an agreement sooner than we thought.

It is completely bizarre that my subconscious threw up a way of making me feel better than involved a situation that I have long, long since moved on from... but then, I like to that it was a manifestation of me facing down old issues that have caused me pain in the past.

Monday, 7 October 2013

But why did you put it on the market in the first place, then?

My Dad hasn't had a stroke, but we don't know what is actually wrong with him. So we're pushing ahead with moving closer to home.

We saw a house about ten days ago. It was nice, the owners seemed sane.  We said we could be a bit flexible about moving, as they still had to buy somewhere new.

We put in an offer last week, deliberately pitched a bit low, but still over the minimum amount advertised . The owners came back and said, unsurprisingly, that that was too low, but they wanted x amount.

The next day, I put in an offer for x amount, and said our timescale for moving was three months. Which seems like bags of time to me.

Then it all started to go a bit tits up. The day after, the estate agent called us to say they needed more time, and were worried about not being able to find somewhere within three months. So we were left hanging over the weekend, but with the expectation that they'd give us a call first thing today.

First thing came and went. Eventually I called up the estate agents, only to be told that the sellers were busy in the morning, but they'd know in an hour. More than an hour later, we got the call, and I feel more and more like walking away.

Three months is apparently too short a timescale for them to move and if they committed to it now they might have to go back on this later on. Yeah, cos that's an entirely reasonable way to behave.

I then got a big sob story relayed to me by the estate agent about how they might have to move in with relatives for a while and could only do this for a couple of weeks because it was awkward with their school run, and appeared to want a completely elastic deadline for handing over the property as it could take a while before they found one they really liked ("It could be two weeks or it could be February - you said you could be flexible so what's the problem?"). Oh yes, and they've now decided they want more money too.

The words that sprung to mind were "fuck" and "off", but I said I'd discuss it with my husband. So we're going to turn it back on them and ask them to make an offer to us.

Thing is, I just have the impression they don't really want to sell. Shame, because it's a nice house.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The decline

Not much blogging been happening here lately - I've had quite a lot else on my mind.

My Dad has had a few episodes where his words have become slurred and he's been shaking and dizzy. Once when I was down for the weekend, but apparently this has happened a couple of other times too. He's become less mobile and, when (perhaps ill-advisedly) he decided to do a bit of plumbing work, he lay down on the ground and couldn't pull himself back up.

This is very worrying for us - he's 78 and getting increasingly frail.

My Mum has been quite difficult to deal with. When I was at theirs and he had one of these episodes, she had a big rant about how he wouldn't go to the doctor. When I suggested she go herself and speak to him, she got angry at me and said it "wasn't that easy", although she has done this before a few years ago, when it turned out his blood pressure meds were causing him problems.

They've been to the doctors and Dad has had a whole series of scans and blood tests, and gets the results this week.

I am mostly worried for my Dad and how they will cope, but it's difficult not to feel slightly infuriated with them too.

For one of the hospital appointments, Mum dropped Dad off and then immediately continued on a round trip of another two hours so the dopey, fat dog could be dropped off at his favourite kennel during the appointments, even though this gave them another three hour round trip the next day. Because Mum felt the dog couldn't lower his standards.

Mum has has been talking about Dad becoming increasingly frail for about the past two years. But up until the brain scans, they were still talking about doing their regular annual long haul trip, which involves at least a 12 hour flight to a destination that you really have to be on fairly good form to handle. The last time Mum started complaining about my Dad not doing enough around the house, I gently suggested that they could possibly get a home help but spend less on holidays. This was not what Mum wanted to hear. Mercifully, they haven't mentioned going anywhere for the last couple of weeks.

Mum decided a few weeks ago that my Dad had had a mini stroke. She called the nurse up ahead of my Dad's regular checkup to tell her that. Dad them got referred for all the hospital appointments he's undergoing at the moment, and started doing more exercise...

... except that the exercise seems to be giving him joint pain and actually making things worse, and now Mum is convinced he has an another, more obscure illness. I think it might be better for him to take it easy until a medical expert (one more qualified than my Mum) has diagnosed him.

We're going to view some properties closer to my parents next week. We might end up taking on the dog, if need be. And I know we're probably going to be spending more time with my parents at their home. We do expect to have to spend more time looking out for them.

It is a one way process, but I'm finding my Mum's way of dealing with it a bit difficult. My Mum is meant to babysit the Boy for half a day every week while I get some work done. She's told me she might not be able to do it after the meeting with the doctor, depending on what's wrong with Dad. Which is fine, and perfectly understandable, and totally her decision to make. Although she's told my sister she's definitely can't help us any more, and I don't really get why she didn't just tell us that. I know she loves looking after the Boy and didn't want to upset her any further by making other arrangements (which mainly involve my husband decreasing his hours, which he needs to give notice with his employers for; so if she'd decided a while ago she couldn't help any more then it would have been useful to know!).

I'm heartbroken that my Dad is ill and I think, realistically, unlikely to get better. It's also frustrating watching both my parents getting old and making increasingly irrational decisions. Most of the time it's not the inconvenience of their choices that bothers me - it's more the fact that it's worrying that they don't really seem to quite live in the real world any more.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The end of a dream

Like lots of other political science student, I found communism pretty appealing when I studied it. It wasn't just that politics students are likely to go into comparatively low paid jobs, it was the idea that everyone started out from a blank sheet and resources were allocated fairly. And it's easy to argue that the only reason communism has never worked anywhere is because it's never been properly and scrupulously implemented.

And, since then, although I have slowly become slightly less badly paid, and a homeowner, and I couldn't subscribe to all the ideals of communism, I'm still fairly lefty and swift to point out the flaws of capitalism.

Except now we've been left a chunk of money by father in law, who it turned out secretly dabbled in investments. We're not talking millions or anything close, but a fair old chunk of money all the same.

And so my husband is insisting we go and see...

...I can hardly bring myself to admit it...


So I seem to have fallen into both middle age and a sell out at a stroke. I will never sell the Socialist Worker, live up a tree to stop roads being built, never live in a tent in a bid to stop the City in its tracks. Because, logically, by having money in the bank, I'm buying into The System and paying the wages of The Man.

I'll still spend  time going to protests against war and nuclear weapons and welfare cuts, but I think we can probably put "becoming a firebrand socialist demagogue" the "lost dreams of youth" box. It's been tossed there along with, in reverse chronological order; being one of those high class prostitutes who gets paid for sleeping with rich, handsome men, being a pop star, marrying Damon Albarn, owning a Ferrari, being a very cool Matrix-esque computer programmer, and having a pony. I think possibly being a Thundercat was earlier.

Still, it'll be nice to hopefully make a couple of good investments and be able to spend less time working and more with the Boy.

So what unlikely dreams have you abandoned?

Friday, 23 August 2013

Don't walk

The Boy isn't walking yet.

My Mum has now started to remark on it, every time she sees him. "Oh, dear, you're so lazy! You don't walk!"

One of the very nice ladies at work has pointed out that we all learn things in our own time and that he is busy learning other things (he is obsessed with sorting and stacking at the moment) when he is not learning to walk, and that there's no point in trying to persuade him otherwise.

Despite mocking a woman we saw on holiday who spent the entire week bent over double trying to "walk" her baby around the campsite, my husband is now starting to do the same to him.

The Boy is fine. He responds to us, he makes eye contact, he chases the cat, he babbles wordlessly to us about his best toys, he is energetic. He hits all his developmental milestones apart from the walking; he can climb alarmingly quickly, and is beginning to be able to work my laptop, which is kind of weird when you only got introduced to touchpads in your mid 20s and your 16 month old has it sussed already.

Yeah, it is a bit disheartening for me when a kid half his age toddles past him. But, he doesn't care. We don't all do things at the same speeds. Maybe, given his familiarity with my laptop and working at home, he already knows he doesn't need to leave the house to survive; evolution in action.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that the people doing the "Oh! My baby walked at 9 months!" are exactly the sort of people as the person who say things like "Gosh! You need to get a move on with having kids".

Next time, it might get a "Nah, not walking, but he spent 18 months in the freezer so he's just chilled!"

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Some of our stuff goes into storage tomorrow, so we can do up our flat. Realistically, we're not going to be able to sell quickly, so it's more of a long goodbye for six months than a long weekend away.

I think I'm fairly ruthless and pragmatic about these things; I've only kept what I think I'll need. Books, cookery books and kitchen gadgets, clothes and the wee man's baby gear has been packed away or stored fairly efficiently. 

Even so, there have been a few things that I couldn't help but look over, or read, before they went away. Novels, mainly. Not impressive ones, but historic chick lit and pulp sci fi that had survived previous purges and I had to remind myself why. But after, well, possibly too many minutes with each, I reminded myself of my Kindle and that it wasn't goodby forever, and put them in the box.

I can't bear to put away some things, though, even impractical ones. There aren't many. So far, they are:

My 2001 travel guide to the whole of Eastern Europe. It is massively out of date, even to the point that some countries it features have since split up. But then, it has maps, and city descriptions, and ever since I've bought it (which was for the most tame holiday I've had in my life; a package trip to Bulgaria), I've used it as an initial guide to plan some fantastic trips I will long remember. Within the last few weeks, I've flicked through it again, trying to figure out a child-friendly route around Poland...

My spice grinder. I've had it for about ten years too now. It came as a present, a food processor with a juicer attachment. I never used the juicer much and the blender jug was broken ages ago. I actually packed it and then pulled it out, because I need it to grind spices for everything from Indian curries to Hungarian sausages, and it would feel a bit miserable to do without them until whenever we move.

A selection of cookery books: A couple of Hairy Bikers, the canon Nigella Lawson, the Wahaca book - I went for recipes that had a wide range of different cuisines. I must not start collecting receipe books again before we move.

 My blue coat: I got it before the whole IVF thing kicked off. It's deeply unfashionable now. It was in the charity shop pile, but I pulled it out. Because I quite like it, if for nothing else.

What couldn't you live without?

Monday, 5 August 2013

Picking at an old scab

Mostly, I am fine about being infertile, now. I no longer have that endless well of rage and frustration inside me.

I rolled my eyes and tutted about all the fuss about the royal baby not because any mention of him was like daggers through my heart, but because I was genuinely bored of it dominating the news headlines (I think if I was still going through IVF the palaver would have sent me over the edge).

I managed to lend maternity clothes to a friend without crying over them. I smile at other kids in the park. I am far more normal than I used to be.

Some things still hurt a little though:

Friends' second pregnancies, particularly the ones that arrive right on time. I'm more happy for them than I was when they were pregnant the first time - frankly, the first time I was a seething mass of resentment and pain. But I still feel a little stab that their life will pan out in an easier and more predictable manner than ours ever will.

  • My period. It's not a hurt, exactly. More that it just feels weird that it turns up every month, but my natural cycle is physically divorced from conception efforts. I mean, I'm kind of glad it is there as it gives us more options, but it just seems a bit... inefficient.

  •  Thinking about the babies that didn't make it and the sheer awfulness of some of the stuff that happened when I was doing treatment. I tend not to dwell on this as I am very lucky, but sometimes the memories pop into my head unbidden.

  • My parents' occasional weird comments about kids really enjoying being around other kids and only children being lonely. I don't know why they do this, given that they're completely opposed to me doing more IVF. 

  • Scan photos - Possibly the most common thing that takes me back to IF is when someone posts a scan photo on Facebook; perhaps that's because I've had innumerably more unpleasant, stressful scans than ones that were fine. They still have the power to make me wince, although mercifully, no-one has shown me on in person; although I did see a film with a short bit of in utero footage and found that really, really uncomfortable.

So, time has healed things a lot, as has the Boy. The scars have faded in the sun and are almost invisible to the casual observer. But they're still there, although I think I'm very fortunate that things have turned out the way they are.

What things make you think about IF?

Friday, 2 August 2013

Bad blogging

I haven't updated in ages - life has rather got in the way.

The Boy is doing really well. He is almost, almost walking - he can stand for a few seconds unsupported until he realises what he's doing and grabs onto a table or chair.

He can manage odd words at surprising times. We were in the park and he picked a daisy. I picked one too and said "Look, David - a daisy!". To my immense delight, he gurgled "'Aisy!" back at me.

We've finally, finally made some progress with the house move. Our stuff goes into storage next week. I feel immensely happier knowing that it's been booked and yes, we are getting out of here.

Job-wise, things are about to get busier with the woodlice. But I've decided that, when we move at the end of the year, I'm going to quit. It'll be tough financially for a while, but manageable.

My husband has suddenly announced that he is going to start looking for different work too, as there's no progression where he is at the moment. He also agreed that we'd probably want to go for #2, although that will have to wait until after the move and all the job stuff is settled.

It feels much better having made all these decisions - I've sometimes felt quite angry with him over the summer as he just seemed so reluctant to make progress.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Hot hot hot

I live in a fairly miserable climate. In winter, it can range between drizzly, cold rain and heavy snow. In summer, it ranges between drizzly, cold rain, occasional snow, and the occasional burst of sunlight, for a day or two.

The thing is that you can never predict if a sunny couple of hours is just that, or a sunny afternoon, or a sunny week. You don't really get sunny months. You more look for the spots of good weather interspersed drizzly, cold rain, or sometimes hail. It is very badly mixed up and unpredictable, but mostly cold.

When the weather does heat up, the "taps aff" phenomenon hits. This mass showing of man boobs that really should be kept hidden away happens because you live in a miserable climate, and so, when the sun shines you have to take full advantage of any vitamin D that might otherwise not creep into your skin. This also means skiving off work, drinking outside, and generally doing anything you can to take advantage of the sunshine. The massive flipside is that the said man boobs crop up in your mind forever afterwards, and you may need CBT to suppress the bad thoughts.

So, anyway, on even borderline warm afternoon, you suddenly find acres of wobbly flesh, badly done tattoos and cellulite exposed to the sun. When it is actually hot, there is no air conditioning or cool beers on offer or anything that you usually get in a society that's used to coping with heat.

The weird thing is - and this really is a once in a generation thing - we're into our second week of sun in a month. People are getting tanned and less bonkers about the "taps aff" thing. The usually busy local restaurant is less busy, as people head to the park. There is also - whisper it - an undercurrent that things are Too Hot, and that this heat is unnatural.

The plus side is that the Boy has had much interaction with dogs, which he loves, and people in the park; there's so many people about, and the hot weather is a reason to chat. People are more open, I think.

The downsides are that the Boy loves the park and the sun, but we can't collectively cope with the hot nights (light nights are one thing, it being hot at night are another); he wakes up screaming. We don't do air conditioning because a freak heat wave once every few years doesn't merit it.

I'm sunbathing as much as I can and making sure the Boy gets sunscreen on, as he loves playing outside (he's also very, very dirty). But despite the instinct to worship the sun's intermittent attention, I'm also longingly looking up knitting patterns for when its cold. The sun may put in an appearance every so often, but I live in a society that is used to being chilly,

What would happen if, where you live, the climate changed?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Smalltown girl

I just spent a week in a small town, for the first time since I left the one I grew up in. Living in a flat that was between lets, helping to clear father in law's almost endless junk from another house up the road.

The flat smelled like the various digs I had as a student - damp downstairs, bare walls upstairs, the minimum of furnishing. It smelled like transience.

Almost automatically, I started doing what I used to do as a student to decorate - use empty wine bottles as candle holders and artfully dribble wax down the sides. If we'd been there any longer I would have doubtless bought a Star Wars poster and some rag rugs.

I experienced that small town mixture of peace and boredom. I had brought work to do but a lack of internet connection meant it was difficult to do. So I spent a fair bit of time walking to the park, walking by the river, browsing in local shops and just generally pottering about.

I ended up being on greeting terms with the guy who worked in the only cafe with wireless, and stopped to chat a few times with our next door neighbour. Less anonymous than in the city - although the next door neighbour reminded me that smalltown friendliness sometimes gets a bit overbearing, as shortly after we arrived he actually tried the door of our flat before knocking and then gabbled something about thinking one of the workmen hired to renovate the flat was working late and he wanted to "check on his car" when my husband went out to ask what he was doing!

I began to think that we could live there forever; we own the property outright and could do low paid jobs while just bumming around the rest of the time. Sort of like being New Age Travellers without the travelling.

Then I realised that I would probably go spare with boredom after a fortnight, and that it was ok during the sunny weather but that the thought of the three of us living in a small flat the other 51 weeks of the year wasn't very enticing.

Still, it was fun for a week. I'd been a bit worried about coping with small town life, but it convinced me more than ever that it's time to get out of the city.

Friday, 5 July 2013

The crossover

It's fairly well documented that you get to a point in your life when the responsibility and capability shifts from your aging parents' shoulders onto yours. You expect to have to help them as they become more infirm.

My parents - compared to my father in law, anyway - have been pretty good at planning ahead for their dotage. They moved into a smaller house, didn't get another dog when the one I grew up with died, and generally were winding down.

Until, I think they must have decided that they were too young to die. So suddenly they started swinging wildly in the other direction. They got an enormous, bouncy dog. Mum's 70th birthday was originally scheduled to begin with champagne cocktails at 10am, until we pointed out that none of her kids could actually travel to her house to begin drinking that early without getting up at 6am. Fair enough.

What does have me chewing my fingernails is my Mum's relentless hyperactivity. It's like dealing with an energetic toddler, who knows no reason. My Dad finds it quite wearing too, when she tears off into the distance without having a clue where she's going, but wants to get there first, wherever it is. He's got a dodgy hip and can't go that fast, but she still zooms off, leaving him and everyone else trailing in her wake.

Mum wanted to go fabric shopping in the city, so Dad, her, the Boy and me went to the market district. It is in one of the dodgiest bits of town. Mum, having initially claimed she knew where she was going, announced that she didn't really know, but thought the shop was up a random, dark alley. I tried to persuade her that this was unlikely, and was not a good bit of town to explore. She insisted on going on her own.

In the meantime, while I stood with Dad, a scar-faced passerby asked us directions to the local off-licence. Dad, in a jolly fashion, said he didn't know because we were all from Hicksville, and had scary scar man ever been there? I tried not to hiss "shut uuuup, Dad," like I was 15.

Mum appeared back from her tour of Dickensian alleyways; I made her come with me into a newsagent  and I bought a magazine while she actually, literally leapt around the Boy's pushchair making the floor thud with the impact and emitting stupid noises. I asked for directions to her fabric shop.

And then we left the newsagent, and my Mum got bored following the directions after approximately 30 seconds. She veered off to the left for no apparent reason, speeding on by herself, and then spotted the most sinister looking pub in the world; a brick box with no windows. So the best thing, obviously, to do would be to flirtatiously ask the man chainsmoking outside, who had even more scars than the man we met earlier, for directions. Funnily enough, he didn't know where the fabric shop was.

We eventually got there when I stuck to the directions we'd been given.

It's like this all the time; I walked her onto her train earlier today and she practically sprinted off up the station concourse while I struggled with luggage, and then insisted that all the clocks in the station were wrong and her watch wasn't slow.

In a way, it's a good phase as she's very independent. It's also maddening, as both of them seem to have become incredibly unworldly, although I think that's partly from spending three decades staying in a small, remote town. I distinctly remember my Mum telling me to avoid dodgy looking drunks when I was little. Dad used to lecture me about data protection, but now will cheerfully put all his personal details on forms, just because he's asked to, and then wonders why he's plagued by junk phone calls.

But part of the thing about the aging parent situation is that, although you become more responsible, they still think they know best. And, unlike a toddler, it's much more difficult to argue that you're right - because they remember changing your nappy...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


It's been a while since I have blogged and much has happened. The Boy is doing fine - very well, actually.

A lot of it terribly dull stuff with work, which I won't bore you with.

But I lie. Some of it is worth blogging about. The organisation I work for, I used to love - let us call it International Woodlouse Survival (it's not, but you get the idea).

I believed in the aims and really bought into the ethos, and indeed, for many years, there was little that I would not do in the name of promoting the woodlice. Trek to the other side of the country in my own time to talk to people about the values of woodlice? No bother. Give up every weekend for a month to fight for the Save the Woodlice by election candidate? You betcha.

The years went on and, while my career didn't exactly blossom - other people who I suspect are better at self promotion but less devoted to woodlice advanced ahead of me, but at least I felt I was doing some good in the world.

However, I noticed that when I was having miscarriages and ectopics and IVF and was generally unable to be gung ho, that people weren't very sympathetic and almost seemed to take it as a sign of weakness that I wasn't doing enough for Woodlouse Survival.

What do you mean, you can't run a stall because you've just had a miscarriage? There are woodlice to be saved! Take six weeks after an operation to remove an ectopic? Think how many thousands of lice will die because of your half-arsedness.

I also thought that it was just that thing you sometimes get where people are frightened of infertility or pregnancy loss. But even since I've had the Boy, I sense there is much pressure on me to not just do my job, but to do everything I used to do when I had fewer commitments. And for now and forever, the Boy is more important than woodlice.

 But circumstances were such that I have had to get on with things, albeit being increasingly disillusioned with woodlice, and dubious about whether or not promoting them actually does any good. I think if I'd been cut a little more slack I would have been more enthusiastic, despite all my problems, but some people I work with being pushy has only served to make me feel very weary.

Anyway, I've noticed the evil side of the Woodlice People with my FIL - he volunteered for the same organisation and some of his colleagues have, horrendously, tried to use his death as an opportunity for self promotion.

One of them actually stagecrashed his funeral to give a eulogy they'd planned but hadn't asked anyone in the family's permission to give. It was along the lines of "FIL was a really good guy. He cared about woodlice. He knew I cared about woodlice too. Aren't I just fabulous!?". It gave me a bad feeling about woodlice, overall.

So I'm trying to remember that, as well as fuckwits, I have met many good friends who I have met through the woodlouse cause. They are not all pushy arses who would sell their grannies for a nice stone to sit under.

I still feel I have lost my previous devotion to the interests of woodlice, and may never get it back. In fact, I want to ditch the whole thing and concentrate on something else. Every time I try to find that old enthusiasm and, for example, arrange a fundraising barndance for woodlice, I find I'm working with self important people who make me want to scream.

So I think my woodlice career is over and I should find something else to do. Apart from anything else, I think it's quite telling that, when I was trying to pluck out a random thing out of the ether to use as an analogy for the organisation I work for, at the start of this post, I picked woodlice. I hate woodlice...

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The conveyor belt

Our last visit from father in law was hard work. He spent the best part of his waking hours plonked on our sofa, not stirring to make himself a cup of tea. He went on a rant about "pa**is" and "Asians", which I was appalled about (and was even more appalled that my husband didn't pull him up). The Boy had visited his house a few weeks before when it transpired that he was fully in the knowledge that his house had mice, although denied they left any droppings; it genuinely didn't seem to have occurred to him that we might not want the Boy crawling around a house with mice. After we dropped him at the station I had a massive row with my husband.

My father in law died last week. Suddenly, of a heart attack.

I feel a mixture of emotions. I'll miss him - he had become increasingly difficult over the past couple of years, and I need to make an effort to remember him before that.

I also feel slightly relieved that we didn't have it out with him about the racist language (not to make excuses, but he was from a small town, and a different generation, where that sort of thing was more widely accepted).

Also, if I'm being honest, I'm relieved that we don't have the worry of him getting ill and needing long term care, which he would have hated.

But we're got an awful lot to sort out, too. We already have quite a lot on our own plates, and now this summer is going to be spent, in part, travelling to the other end of the country to work on de-junking the endless amount of stuff that has been hoarded in my husband's old home.

More importantly, I guess, is the emotional side. My job is to help my husband however I can. His mother died a while back too, and a lot of the burden of sorting things out will fall to him.

It's funny - with the IVF and miscarriages and everything, they changed me, but I didn't feel older. This has made me feel older, like we're sliding into middle age. The generational balance of our family has shifted with his passing.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Just say 'non'

So, we went on holiday to a big country near us. It's not too difficult to work out, but I don't want to appear in Google searches, so you're going to have to read between the lines.

I had long had very mixed feelings towards this particular place. This was largely because of the exchange program my school ran. Between my older siblings and one of my parents being a teacher, we had about four exchangees staying with us. One was nice. The others weren't.

But everyone else who has been raved about the food and the culture, so we decided it was an easy destination for our first lengthy foray with the Boy.

My feelings still remain very mixed.

On the one hand, it was easy, and the wine was cheap.

On the other hand, well...

Everything was shut at odd times. Not just for the famously lengthy lunchtimes, but for Mondays, Sundays, and other, random times. Everyone seemed to keep different lunch times to, so you couldn't be reliably sure of anything being open between about 12pm and 3.30pm. It seemed like an extreme length to go to, to make it easy to philander. We pondered if prostitutes charged more at lunchtime or also took the time off.

Most things veered between being expensive to being an overt ripoff. We paid six euros fifty each for a croque monsieur in a place that looked like a restaurant but only served patrons for glorified cheese toasties while the staff tucked into vastly more interesting food at the next table. Yeah, they saw us coming.

I wouldn't say everyone was rude. But, there seemed to be quite a high percentage of very rude people, compared to other places we've visited. Like an entire bus shelter of about 30 people who watched us standing next to the bus stop, got up when the bus appeared, and shoved in front of us. One little shit of a schoolboy actually stood in front of us and waved other people ahead.

And my personal favourite, the driver who got out, opened the boot of the bus, watched my husband struggling to load our bags and a pushchair (I'd gone onto the bus with the Boy), and then started clapping to hurry him up.

Oh, and then there was the cleaning. Usually, when we've self catered before, the drill is that you do a normal weekly clean before you leave - a quick dust, floors, bathroom, tidy up any mess, and a paid cleaner, covered by the cost of your fees, cleans anything else. Here, one place gave us a four page checklist, which included commands like emptying the hoover and polishing the windows. We spent half a day of precious holiday time on this.

 On websites where I've seen similar criticisms levelled, there have been apologists saying "Oh, that's just the capital". Or "You should have made more effort to speak the language".

But we weren't in the capital, we visited two different places for a week each (in actual fact, when we did visit the capital found people there were more helpful and it certainly wasn't any more expensive).

And, while I'm not fluent in the language, I did study it for several years and always had a go at speaking it, trying to get the verbs endings right and so on. Mostly, this was the only method of communicating with people, which is fine, although slightly puzzling if the person I was chatting to worked in a tourist information in a busy resort town full of English speaking foreign tourists.

I know I wasn't completely unintelligible as I could get the point across. But  if the person I was speaking to was apparently the descendent of a collaborator who coped with their family's shame by holding Gestapo-style attitudes towards grammar, then it became difficult.

I nearly forgot the toilets. In any public toilet, restaurant toilet, or toilet in a visitor attraction, there was no seat. I thought someone was going around removing them until we realised they had probably never been installed. I mean, why? Why?  This is a nation that prides itself on being sophisticated.

Worse, there was usually one or two unisex cubicles. Which wouldn't be so bad, but sometimes there would be a urinal that you had to walk past to get to the cubicle. Quite a few times, I was trying to go as quickly as I possibly could, to avoid the horrendous embarrassment of exiting the toilet and finding a stranger urinating within a couple of feet of me in plain sight (An etiquette dilemma from hell. Do you acknowledge them in a breezy continental manner or go all British and prudish and pretend the man with his willie out doesn't exist?)

So next time, we're going back to places where people actually quite like visitors, everything isn't so expensive, and a smaller percentage of the people are arseholes. I even dislike that I found so much cause to complain, like I was somehow morphing into a whinging parochial for not embracing the queue jumping and the bizarrely primitive toilets as some sort of enriching cultural experience.

I expect they won't give a fuck as there's enough local tourists, plus foreigners who incomprehensibly return year after year, as well as people like us who believe the hype enough to be sucked in once. But hey, I can live with that as long as I never return.

I'm never paying for the Boy to do exchange trips there, either.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

All choked up

I just got to write the first birthday card in my life that I signed off "Happy Birthday, love, Mum".

I honestly never thought, two years ago, that I'd ever get this far.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The rage

I remember, years ago, before even my first ectopic, my sister told me about her boss' PMT. Apparently it was really, really bad, and everyone else in the office had to tiptoe round her. They knew it was PMT not just because of the mood, but because her boss would put a bag full of sanitary towels and so on in one of the cubicles at work, and my sister was glowered at when she came out of the cubicle and found her boss waiting.

My sister's theory was that her boss had particularly bad PMT because she'd never had kids. At the time, in my late teens, I thought of the horror of being a childless woman with bad PMT, devoting her life to her career but ending up with underlings resenting her for it.

Utter pish. I can confidently report that my PMT is fucking awful, awful, at the moment. Apart from being bad tempered, really bad tempered towards my husband and all work projects ever, I've felt irrational stabs of rage at the following:

  • There's a bit of plaster on the windowsill of the shared staircase in our block. It looks like a cast of a turd. Why is it there? I was fighting the urge to hurl it out the window.
  • Whoever decided that delicate, white, lacey cardigans were in this season. It's not that I don't like them, it's that I'm angry that if I get one, I know it will end up being covered with banana, Ella's Kitchen, general black dirt, or similar. Why is fashion so stupid?
  • The fucking self service tills at Tesco. I actually swore out loud at one today, when it came out with its "unexpected item in bagging area" line. The shop assistant was standing right behind me and I felt a bit embarrassed. But mainly angry.
  • Baby boomers. They're an irritating generation. Madly entitled, spending everywhere and reaping the benefits of... well, a generous benefit system. Fucking up the economy. Not passing anything they had on. But being all surprised at people my age not having a better standard of living.
  • My parents' incredibly annoying habit of turning up really, really early to things. The last example was when they were having a city break close to us, and parked their car at our house - they insisted this required us to have the keys for their car, which neither of us is insured to drive. They said they'd be back to pick it up at 10am on the Sunday. Instead, they turned up at 9am, when I was in the shower, my husband was changing the Boy, and, because neither of us could let them in, they let themselves in, got the keys, then made a big show of waving at us from the pavement (Who turns up that early on a Sunday? Really?). They're coming over soon for lunch, and I think I might actually implode with rage if they pull this stunt again. To be fair, they also leave ludicrously early too; they particularly seem to revel in spending the maximum time they can waiting for public transport.
And breathe.

I know I will feel better soon. I will feel weepy and upset, then tired when my period starts, then normal.

I seem to vaguely remember, during IVF, reading that sticking parsley up your fanjo encourages menstruation. And I would, only I would get angry at the parsley, too.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

It isn't the first that matters

The Boy is becoming slightly more challenging as he gets bigger. Not just bigger, but more able to:

  1. Hurl food
  2. Attempt to go AWOL at baby singing rather than waiting for his go at the mat/drum/whatever else. He recently rugby tackled a slightly older and bigger child to the ground, much to my horror (a Dad of an older toddler, who he took out of the same class because he thought she got too much to handle, said sagely "aaah, you notice more when it's yours.").
  3. Have fights with the cat; the cat sometimes puts up with him, sometimes doesn't - but she always wins
  4. Fight sleep at odd times. It is comforting to know that sleep wins eventually, but a bit trying at 5am when he's been up for 2 hours already, and any ignoring, trying to settle, gently stroking his nose and any other bollocks just isn't making him want to sleep.
The first three of these have met with many responses of "no". "No, don't throw food", "No, you need to share", "No, please don't do that to the cat, if you touch her gently like this, it'll be fine".

 But then, he does surprising things to. During the recent 3.30 - 5.30 unexpected partytime, I kept trying to give him a bottle of milk. Milk usually gets him to sleep, and I was really hoping that if he accepted a bottle, he'd nod off.

Instead, after becoming exasperated on my 3rd or 4th attempt, he shouted "Nuuuuuuu!" and chucked the bottle at me like I'd been about to pull the cat's tail.

So I think "no" might be his first word.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Cleaning out the closet

We need to do up our flat to sell, and my first task is to go through all the crap I have amassed in the last five years and get rid of some of it.

When I moved house in my early 20s, which I did fairly often, I was almost a bit sad at how little stuff I had. Everything fitted into a couple of bin bags. But now, I am weighed down with ballast; camping equipment, baby stuff, books, DVDs, furniture.

But anyway, I've been finding all sorts of things relating to the IF years. And sometimes, it's difficult to know what to keep and what to go.

I had two books which I found useful - one called Coping With Infertility, which was relentlessly depressing at first but I came to rely on as treatment progressed, and a book on IVF. I read both of them endlessly. However, when it came down to it, I don't need them now; I don't think I'll ever be as depressed about infertility as I was then, and the whole IVF process is so deeply etched into my brain that I don't think I'll ever forget the downregging, stimming, retrieval, transfer, 2ww sequence.

It felt rather like being disloyal to old friends, but I put them in the charity shop; hopefully they will find a home with someone else in need. Although we picked the religious charity shop near our house rather than the one I usually donate to, and my husband worried afterwards that the volunteers might disapprove of IVF. Too late, though.

I also found my ovulation monitor. I hate the fucking thing with a passion. I spent a fortune on it and on the pee sticks it uses. I must have used it for the best part of a year. Every month, I'd get excited when the three bars appeared. Every month, I'd be heartbroken when all the careful urinating, measuring, dutiful shagging and - if I was being particularly diligent - lying in bed afterwards, to give my husband's sperm a better chance to negotiate my innards.

Anyway, I'd have been as well spending the money on a really nice meal out, for all the good it did - all the monitoring and lying down in the world wouldn't fit my dodgy tube.

I'd have been really happy to throw the thing out. But it was expensive, and it feels a bit yucky to sell it ("only one careful owner"). So I'm keeping it in case we ever do another cycle and I want to check my ovaries are still functioning beforehand. Although I may revisit this - the thing usually turns up at the bottom of the wardrobe, or in my underwear drawer, when I don't expect it, and I always feel a little stab of rage in memory of its false promises.

I also found an embarrassing number of positive pregnancy tests.

 I remember holding the one from the miscarriage as it was the only solid proof I had that I had ever been pregnant, and feeling completely and utterly devastated. Feeling overjoyed at the ones that turned out to indicate another ectopic - but then feeling better when my last tube was taken out. And, conversely, being shit scared of the ones that indicated the pregnancy that ended in joy.

They used to be a big part of my world. But I'd actually forgotten they were there, now. It felt funny seeing them again. Just like the card I found that the people at work sent after the first miscarriage. I kept all of these things, although they make me sad I can't bear to part with them. They're all I have of those pregnancies.

Then there are the other things. Endless packets of aspirin and folic acid (I haven't had folic acid in nearly a year, now - I don't miss it). They've been unceremoniously binned. The sharps disposal container, that we must get round to handing in to the hospital.

So, some objects are gone, some stay. Little bits and pieces that remind me of the marks that the struggle to get and stay pregnant has left on me; I think I was a different person before I acquired these things.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The ones that got away

Shopping is a tricky business. If you covet an item for long enough, the chances are that you'll be pretty chuffed when you buy it. The world is also full of things that you might buy on impulse and then regret it afterwards.

But then, sometimes you see things and resist the urge to impulse buy. And then you regret it, forever.

I didn't buy the following items. But I know that my life would have been enriched by them:

A purple leather jacket with the imagine of an elephant on the back - I was 15, and it would have blown my holiday budget until, well, the age I am now. But I still regret not doing it.

Platform trainers in the sale - I was roughly the same age as with the item above. They weren't very much. But for some reason, I didn't; leaving me to forever regret not taking the opportunity when the Spice Girls were cool and I was young enough to carry it off.

A bullwhip: Another holiday regret (although shopping that got away often is; it's not like you're going to be around tomorrow to rectify your mistake). The bullwhip wasn't going to be for me, but for my nephew. I convinced myself that being a cool auntie wouldn't be worth the havoc to my sister's household. I think I may have been wrong.

The worst rendition of the Last Supper known to humankind: This was in a street market in a small town near Port Elizabeth. Someone had decided to turn da Vinci's masterpiece into one of those hologram painting jobbies; if you tilted it, Christ and His disciples appeared to wave their arms. It had been done in super-garish colours. The piece de resistance was a small clock positioned in the top right hand corner. It was too big to carry around, too big to fit on the place. But, really, what are practical considerations compared to the talking point it would have been for the rest of my life?

Hitler alarm clock: This one, I have mixed feelings towards. It was a cheap, old fashioned alarm clock with bells and a hammer, on sale in a tacky resort in Bulgaria. What made it a standout item was the picture of Adolf doing a Nazi salute on the front. What you want to wake up to. Part of me wanted to buy it because of the outstanding bad taste it embodied. But then, I don't think any normal, sane person would want to sell Hitler alarm clocks, and I was worried that people getting them for ironic reasons would mean that more were produced, and more being produced would mean more people buying them who would be genuinely happy with the Fuhrer bidding them a Guten Morgen.

So, do you have anything you regret not buying?

Monday, 29 April 2013

That old familiar feeling

I think I've become almost assimilated into normal, sometimes. I don't recoil at the sight of babies anymore. Infertility no longer dominates my every waking moment. I mean, I don't forget I have no tubes, but, post-Boy, things are much easier.

But some people make it easier to handle than others.

I have a friend who had her first when I was going through a particularly rough time with losses and treatments. She probably didn't mean to, but she completely rubbed me up the wrong way (I think she had it in her head that I'd feel better if I took more interest in her pregnancy and baby, and some of her endless status updates on Facebook were particularly aimed and me and my husband, when we just wanted to try and deal with our own problems as best as we could) and we barely spoke for a while.

Fast forward a couple of years. Things have gotten much better between us, although I think the level of trust has diminished.

So, I asked her if she fancied doing an activity with a small group of other people. It's reasonably strenuous and somewhere quite remote. I made a point of saying we were leaving the Boy (partly because it's not small-child-friendly, and partly because she sometimes just ignores her toddler causing havoc - which isn't really what you want if you've booked a babysitter for your own kid).

She said yes, so I started looking at pricing and arrangements. I e-mailed the group to confirm, then got a weirdly passive aggressive message from her saying she'd noticed her husband and son weren't included. She quite often does stuff without her husband, so I replied saying she hadn't said anything about him coming, and reiterated that it wasn't a suitable activity for small children, so I'd understand if she couldn't make it.

I then got a reply saying that she'd checked with her husband and he didn't want to come anyway, so just to go ahead.

Then - and I bet you saw this coming - she posted a scan photo on Facebook.

So now I'm gritting my teeth about the whole thing. I had been feeling relatively ok about being infertile, babies weren't bothering me; feeling normal. But I'm kind of grumpy about the whole trip and it's making me feel grumpy about my husband's dithering about whether or not he wants to try for #2, whether we'll move house, and so on.

If she's coming, the dynamic will change; not so much drinking and having to take it slightly easier. One of my other pals is also going through fertility problems and I suspect will probably find it a bit tough.

I'm not sure if I'm irrationally annoyed because she can get pregnant easily and I can't. Maybe I thought I was doing better than I actually am. Or maybe it is just genuinely a bit irritating.

I don't want to go back to feeling bad when other people get pregnant.

Update: Giving the Boy his bedtime routine, I remembered that I promised myself that, if I ever actually had a baby, I'd stop fretting about small, stupid things and be grateful for just being able to have one child; that secondary infertility would never affect me as badly as it did first time around. So I think I need to just focus on, and be thankful for, what I have.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Changing rooms

As part of our plan to move our lives on, we had our flat valued. We bought our home just before the economy went completely down the toilet. In fact, checking an article in an estate agent magazine, we bought it the month the property market peaked.

Great timing, eh?

The good news is, we don't have negative equity. The bad news is, the recession has wiped a cool £30k off the value. Which is probably about as much as we gained on my husband's last flat, sold when we bought this place. About 8,000 kebabs, the entire contents of every local charity shop, and then some. About as much as David Beckham spends on a single pair of pants.


We had been banking on a leetle bit more money than that, and it's going to make it a lot more difficult to move somewhere with a garden. Plus the value we got was dependent on getting our place repainted, recarpeted and so on.

Hope we win the lottery, or that our collection of DVDs is actually worth more than the £6.87 I estimate it to be. Pray that the estate agent was wrong.

I suppose the silver lining is that the market is a wee bit shagged everywhere; we'll pay less for a bigger place than we would have five years ago

We'll have to get someone else round for a second opinion but make sure we do a better job of tidying and decluttering first. Casting my eye around, the dead pot plant, carpet stains, and half-chewed roll of toilet paper are not likely to help form positive opinions.

I remember in the 2000s, there were all these property shows that told you how to make an attractive wall hanging out a bike wheel and some ribbon and bottle tops. And other, similar ones that said you should paint everything magnolia. But I don't think either of those will help us, now.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie...

I must admit, my primary emotion at hearing of the passing of Margaret Thatcher was a stab of exhaultation.

Isn't that awful?

On reflection, I think she did some good. From reading the history books, the UK couldn't have gone on in the way it had been. Industrial reform was inevitable, and was inevitably going to cause some pain. The council house buyout allowed millions to buy property, giving them a more secure foothold in society.

Which brings me to the bad points. Like her not believing in society.

But above all, what she did was to make society less equal. Those who ended up on the bottom rung during the 1980s have become less and less likely to move up the ladder. Entire communities were thrown on the dole queue, and became far more susceptible to the ravages of drugs, unemployment and poverty. Some of them are within a few minutes of where I stay, and have not recovered from the dismantling of heavy industry.

It wouldn't have been so bad if there had been more invested in alternatives. We didn't stay in a town dominated by heavy industry, but, during the 80s, I remember my older siblings spending months, even years, being firstly unemployed and then under-employed. Mass unemployment hurt graduates as well as ex miners, particularly in areas outside the South East of England.

For every good policy effect there was a bad one. The council house buyout wasn't just about a family buying a house; some families managed to buy several and then make a fortune. Which means that now, some households live in terribly cramped conditions, unable to afford to buy or rent commercially, but stuck in a tiny council house.

Perhaps some sort of counter balance to the policy would have to have reinvested the receipts for sales in new council housing, or only allowed, say, 50% of houses in a community to be sold.

I think I'd have felt slightly... well, "sad" isn't the right word. But possibly find the celebrations of her death a bit more distasteful, if this horrible government, full of her political children, hadn't chosen this month to step up their persecution of disabled people. Food banks are opening everywhere, the government cuts benefits as an incentive to work, then announces it is also going to cut the minimum wage. And they try to justify reforms by using the deaths of six children at the hands of their father.

That's her legacy - that "the devil take the hindmost" is an acceptable government policy. Well, he's taken her, now.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The cat's paw

The cat was pretty damn horrified when we brought the Boy home.

I, to be fair, wasn't great with the cat. I had promised myself and her that I'd still have time to rub her tummy every day, and this didn't work. At all.

But, over time, the family dynamic has readjusted itself. The cat knows exactly how fascinating she is to the Boy, and used to sit just out of his reach, or dart past him. He'd try to grab her and would sometimes laugh and her in delight as she walked in front of him.

Ah, but the rules change all the time. The Boy can now crawl forward... which means the cat is going through another rapid period of readjustment.

The worst time for her was probably the very first time the Boy crawled - he made a beeline for her basket, then picked it up and waved it around. She'd been trying to hide behind it and was clearly appalled by this new and unexpected development. So, for most of the past week, whenever the Boy has begun to maraud around the flat, the cat has made herself scarce.

She seems to have gotten the hang of things over the past couple of days, though, and now actively courts the Boy's attention. Today, she sat of the table, easily within reach. As the Boy tried to grab her, she gently batted his hand with her paw, and he giggled. They both seemed to be enjoying the game.

Then, he grabbed her tail and she must have pushed him less gently on the forehead. He looked startled and let out a couple of sobs, but the cat kept her claws sheathed and there was no harm done (the whole incident from tail pull to paw push was so rapid that my husband, who was right next to them, couldn't react quick enough to move the Boy away).

The only other time he's managed to pull her tail before we or she stopped him, the cat hissed at the Boy. And he immediately stopped and burst into tears; her wrath is evidently worse than ours. I did wonder how he automatically knew the cat was angry and that he should be frightened, as she'd never shown any real signs of irritation at him before that, but I guess it must be instinctive, somehow. I also wonder how the cat knows not to hurt him; I have a feeling I'd be treated much less gently if I grabbed her tail!

I did feel bad for the cat at first, and the pair of them are going to need close supervision as, although the cat has been amazingly patient so far, I don't want either of them to hurt each other. As he grows, it's lovely to see them developing their own relationship; hopefully the Boy will stop showing his affection by grabbing, and he'll entertain the cat as much as she entertains him.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Spam spam spam

I had an e-mail in my inbox today, from a name I vaguely recognised.

"But why has he e-mailed me now?" I thought, puzzled.

I clicked, and it was a "Hi, look at THIS propertee" type e-mail.

My account has been hacked too, and it's always embarrassing.

For me, it's kind of weird coming from my last-but-one RE, who I haven't seen since he retired one pregnancy and three cycles ago.

Brings back happy memories of being convinced my 2nd and 3rd cycles would work, then me e-mailing him in a distraught way when they didn't. Total blast from the past.

I wonder if any other ex patients got the e-mail and are similarly reliving memories?

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


In the long years when I was trying to conceive, my husband and I agreed that, after the battle was won, we'd move out of the city, to somewhere where we could buy a house with a garden, the Boy could safely play outside, and there was a good school.

I mean, it's not exactly an unusual ask.

When I actually got pregnant, I was working part time, in a job that effectively ties me to where we stay now (odd hours, including evenings and weekends, among other reasons). My husband had a part time job and some freelance work.

After I had the Boy, I went on maternity leave, and my husband lost his part time job. They were fairly hard financial times.

My husband had around three months of freelancing. I asked him a few times if he could build up his business and do it full time, but he still wanted a part time job. One of his mates offered him something - an ok job, but one with no career prospects. He took it, and works between that and his own business.

We agreed that, after Christmas, he would start looking for work elsewhere. I would leave my original job and we would move.

To this end, I took on another part time job, one that I can do from anywhere. I've also taken on some freelancing. I've been gradually picking up projects back at my original part time job, under pressure from my boss to come back. And I do the bulk of the childcare.

My situation is better, as I do really feel like I'm preparing to leave my original job, and that we'll be in reasonable financial shape when we take the plunge.

The problem is that my husband just hasn't bothered to look for anything. He refuses to tell me what sort of job he's interested in. He rejects any suggestions I make. He won't countenance any suggestions that he cut back his hours with his part time job and build up his freelancing, even though he'd rather work for himself than anyone else. He doesn't want to commute. He had agreed to phone up about a job that was in a location near my family, where we'd have free childcare, but then decided he didn't fit the job description properly, so isn't going to bother.

We're two months into the New Year and he hasn't applied for anything.I think he's maybe set up some automatic searches on job sites, and that's about it.

He said last week that we'd had a lot of upheaval over the past couple of years and maybe we should have agreed to move later. Fair enough. But then, I really, really wish he'd said this before I started the process of building up work I can do when we move.

I also can't really leave my old job yet, not unless he gets something more solid, wherever it is we're going to move to.

Meanwhile, I feel like I am running myself into the ground, trying to keep everything going. And feeling increasingly stressed about being back properly at my old job. We've been bickering more and more because I've been feeling so under pressure.

To give you an example, I looked after the Boy from 5.30 to 11.30, starting work at one of my jobs at 8. I juggled looking after the Boy and work until my mother appeared to help out. I finished at around 4.15, and used my lunch hour to do freelancing. Then I looked after the Boy and cooked, and had a hideous evening meeting that lasted an hour. I ended up crawling more or less straight into bed when I got in at 9pm, and then couldn't sleep because I felt so wound up. And then the Boy got up at 1am...

After a weekend of arguing, and finally me e-mailing him to try and get across that I cannot keep on looking after the Boy, trying to build a business, and do two other jobs, my husband has found one fucking job to apply for. One. In two months. And he hasn't actually filled in the form yet, or decided whether he wants to do it full time or apply for jobshare.

He mutters about how he has saved time by going up to the supermarket by himself (I actually quite enjoy us all going, and the Boy likes it too), or by getting up early in the morning, or about how he's going to let out a property he inherited (another argument simmering away - it's too far away for him to refurbish by himself, too small for us to move to, he's liable for tax on it while it's uninhabited, and anyway, I feel really uncomfortable about him holding an empty flat when so many people struggle for a roof over their heads. He won't sell it either).

To be fair, he does work really hard for his employer, and his existing clients. But not, apparently, at things that are going to change the situation we're in.

I know we're not in a terrible position. There are people without babies, without work. Single parents who have to work all hours to make the ends meet without someone sharing the bills. Disabled people about to get into debt because of benefit cuts. And people in other countries, and so on. I know we're lucky.

But I do feel a bit pissed off about it all.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

No means no

We are still working on getting the Boy not to throw food.

Usually I say "no" sternly, and he looks contrite. Then we smile at each other, and we try again. If he hurls the next handful of food immediately, then I usually take that to mean he's had enough, and mealtime is over. If he carries on (and sometimes he does throw a handful of food and eat the next handful) then I let him eat until he is full.

He still throws, but I feel like I'm making headway.

The problem is, my husband cannot do stern. I came out of the shower, and heard him saying, rather camply, "Don't throw your food, you bad boy!". The Boy responded by cackling with laughter at him.

I think my husband does want to mean it, but he really struggles to sound like he means it. Every time he says "No, don't you do that!", in a very limp wristed fashion, the Boy roars with laughter at him, and sometimes, I do too. Which is very bad of me, but he sounds like he's channeling a Carry On film.

I've got a horrible feeling that I'm going to be the disciplinarian in the family in the future!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

10 Things I Miss From Childhood

Swiped from Mali!

  1. Swimming in the sea. I know I still can, but for some reason, it was less cold when I was little.
  2. Rolling down the hill in the park, especially if the grass had just been cut.
  3. Knightmare.
  4. Eating an entire packet of parsley in one go (I still can do this...).
  5. Spending hours and hours in the swimming pool and not getting bored.
  6. Certainty about rights and wrongs - things seem to get more woolly as you get older.
  7. 10p mix ups.
  8. My granny, who looked after me loads.
  9. Supernoodles being an exotic, grown-up snack.
  10. Going up the hills behind our house - without asking first, so I technically wasn't doing anything wrong.

Friday, 15 February 2013

A night out

Tomorrow, we've got an overnight babysitter. I didn't go seeking one out, but one of my relatives volunteered to look after the Boy overnight.

I agreed.

It still feels a bit too soon. But then, if I leave it and leave it, it will always feel too soon. He will pack his bags and go to university, and I will then move into his living room in student halls, because he will still be my wee boy and incapable of surviving without me. Unless I knock this on the head.

So I agreed.

So, the Boy's clothes are packed, and I have put a great deal of thought into what he's wearing. Relative has been e-mailed his routine, and I've had a big chat with her about what he eats and doesn't eat. He is well prepared.

The thing is, I've completely failed to find something for us to do. We've booked a hotel, because I think it would be very weird being in the flat without the wee man. Besides which, it would end up that we'd spent our evening tidying the flat.

Apart from that, we don't have anything planned. There's nothing on at the cinema, or the theatre. I meant to book a restaurant but haven't got round to it yet.

I have vague plans to wear my new-ish black dress. But that's it.

Whatever we do, it will be the first night we've spend together in years where I wasn't between IVF cycles, or pregnant. Or have a small baby with us - and, lovely though this is, it does put a bit of a curb on romantic evenings, lingering over meals, going to trendy bars, and all the things that kept us going through the bad old times, and things that I still sometimes miss.

But then the IVF question is looming in my mind, once more. I was sorting the Boy's clothes into "donate" or "keep" piles and asked my husband what he thought we should do with a couple of items, and he wanted to keep them.


We definitely, definitely don't want to spend our first night on our own for however long arguing about doing another IVF cycle, though.

Monday, 11 February 2013

What next?

I've been trying to raise the subject of what family building, if any, we do next.

I'd quite like to provide the Boy with a sibling. I think we've got a good chance of treatment working again.

However, I thought that last time. And I don't think I've got it in me to do another five cycles over two years.

I'd also be a bit more cautious about the number of embryos transferred, and with one at a time you have less chance of a sticky embie than two.

Another baby would be lovely, it's just weighing up the cost, the pain, and the chance of having to do repeat cycles. Given the odds, I think we'd be have to be prepared to do at least two.

I also wouldn't rule out adopting. I think if we'd tried to adopt before we would have been told to wait until we were properly over the IVF failures and losses.

The main fear I have with adoption is that we could be setting the Boy up to have a sibling who never comes to terms with the loss of his birth family, no matter how hard we try to make him or her feel welcome. And/or, if it was an adoption with some form of contact, that it would be potentially allowing people into the Boy's life, even on a peripheral basis, that we wouldn't particularly want him having any sort of contact with. Closed adoptions with very young children are rare.

I would try and talk this over with my husband, but I think he just thinks it's too soon after everything else - although, I'd rather know what we're aiming for.

Overall, though, I'm in a much happier place about thinking about #2 then I was when going through IVF #5. By the end of treatment I'd conditioned myself not to get my hopes up to the point I had trouble accepting I was actually pregnant. I also think I kept up treatment out of sheer bloodymindedness; it partly became about beating IF, as if IF is some sort of dragon that shrinks every time an infertile gets pregnant.

Another one would be nice. But I count my blessings already.