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.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Future shock

I read somewhere, ages ago, that IVF would become more and more common in the future. And that someday, scientists would reach the "Holy Grail" - technology that would mean a near-as-dammit-to-certain chance that every embryo transferred would lead to a live birth.

I guess, in that case, IVF might become a choice for fertile couples too. Why go through all the mess and uncertainty of trying to concieve normally when you could just pick a month and then plan around it accordingly (you already get those annoying couples who wonder if they should only try for a summer baby...).

And, following from that, voluntary infertility might become a choice too. Rather than worry about an unexpected pregnancy, you could just voluntarily get your tubes cut, then do a round of IVF when you were good and ready for it. You could even freeze eggs during your late teens or early 20s in order to do this.

It doesn't sound so bad, does it?

And yet, and yet...

Totalitarian governments have a long history for interfering with women's reproductive systems, from sterilisation in China to the banning of contraception and abortion in Caucescu's Romania. Where there's a power to choose, there's potentially a power to control.

Even in democratic governments, if a majority chose the IF-and-IVF route, it might get to a critical mass point where it became an appealling issue to legislate on. The Daily Mail would love it - it would be an almost automatic barrier to fecklessness, as it would almost certainly be a more time-consuming way to reproduce than the traditional way. The Jeremy Kyle show would run out of contestants.

You might agree with that, but I think the idea that choice would be removed, either through social convention or by law, is a frightening one

Then there's the other biggie, the one that religious groups are always up in arms over. How far would an IF-and-IVF system take us to "designer babies"? I'm guessing that if it would be possible to screen for embryos with a 99% chance of success, it would also be possible to screen for a whole range of other things.

I don't think it would mean an entire kindergarten of children modelled after that year's X-Factor winners but more than embryos that were likely to result in children ending up with long term, life limiting conditions not being allowed to be born.

Or that these children would only effectively be allowed to be born to families with the wherewithal to look after them, who chose to use high-risk embryos. Because why would anyone agree to pay into a common health insurance system or even a fundraising scheme, that covers enormously expensive medical care bills that could easily have been avoided? How many people would care that the parents might have had to choose between a risky embryo or no biological child? Where would you draw the line over the right to choose?

You start off thinking that more choice and better technology is almost always a good thing. IVF becoming a certainty rather than a 30% chance would help millions worldwide - particularly people who can't afford to gamble thousands.

But how far could it go to change society, and where to the changes stop being a benefit and start being something far more sinister?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

A big ask

The NHS has, generally, been pretty good in emergencies. I'm grateful for treatment that's available without a charge at the point of need. But it's internal bureaucracy sometimes means I'm slightly frustrated.

I've got a reminder for my cervical smear test. The joy.

The thing that's slightly off-putting is that I know, when I go, I'm going to have to go through a  questionnaire about my fertility history with a nurse. There's a question where you're meant to write down the number of pregnancies and the number of children you have, and just a small space next to each question.

Once, when I did this during the IF years, I ended up absolutely bawling my eyes out. It was not my finest hour. But I just found it enormously upsetting to have to explain the situation I found myself in, all the agony that spilled out from those two little spaces.

I've moved beyond this now, and just find it all a bit tiresome. My abbreviated fertility history would fill at least a page of A4 if I include IVFs, ectopics, drug regimes and all the rest. It fills pages and pages and pages in my detailed notes.

They don't need me to go through it all again, but I know they're going to ask. Because the NHS has no bureaucratic procedure for recognising someone is infertile and has no facility for sneaking in a pregnancy when they're not looking.

And then there's the "what contraception are you using?" I got asked this by every nurse, doctor, community midwife and health visitor I met in the Boy's early days, until about the 8th one finally wrote something in my notes to stop the constant quizzing. I'd tried to pre-empt this by writing in my birth plan that there was no point asking; in fact, it was one of the few reason I'd bothered with a birth plan (I asked a midwife if there was any point in them and was told they were considered a "very valuable document". I didn't really believe her, which was just as well or I'd have been in for a rude shock).

 I was actually finding it quite amusing by the end - perhaps I am slightly twisted, but I was enjoying watching the surprise and squirming embarrassment when I matter-of-factly explained why it is impossible for me to get pregnant naturally.

Maybe the nurse who does the questionnaire will be the same one as the last time, and remember me. Maybe I should tell her my method of contraception is spending all my money on wine and avoiding fertility clinics. Or maybe I should just change my name to "Mrs No Fallopian Tubes And Read My File Before Asking About Previous Pregnancies" on my notes, so everyone gets the message.