One of the things we infertiles get really good at is keeping ourselves busy.
I’ve been meaning to write an update post but everything has been go go go and I haven’t really had a chance.
(Interlude: I’m on the tube. I’ve just given up my seat to a pregnant lady who wasn’t even wearing the Baby on Board badge. The fact that she’s extremely tall and skinny and glamorous and was wearing pleather pants with a stretch panel and was skinny apart from a small belly gave me the confidence to ask her if she wanted a seat, which she did. But really she should have worn the badge! In London we have special badges that pregnant women can wear so that people will know they’re pregnant and give them a seat – British people don’t like asking!)
So what have I been up to? The big thing is, last week I made a wedding cake. It was a bit of a job. The wedding was on Friday so I didn’t want to take more days off than necessary – we have two weeks holiday coming up and I need to save some for Christmas so I decided to try and do it mainly on the Thursday, so I’d only have to take two days off. Usually I take a bit longer than that to make a wedding cake, but there’s nothing like a tight deadline to keep you moving!
Tuesday night I decided to try and save myself some time on Thursday (the main cake making day) by making some buttercream flowers in advance. Now, let me tell you about buttercream. Buttercream is what I do. When you think of cake making, and particularly celebration cakes, people think of fondant and sugar paste. Or maybe royal icing. Me, I just do buttercream.
I could do fondant and have done in the past, but it’s not really my bag. The reason is partly that people don’t really like the taste of fondant, and partly because the creative process doesn’t appeal so much to me; it’s like modelling play-dough. It’s very manual, forming shapes out of a blob of icing with your hands. To me, fondant cakes look great but they taste meh. Also you might spend ages making models out of fondant or flowers out of sugar paste and then you don’t even eat them. To me, it’s like putting fresh flowers on a cake: it looks great but they aren’t really a part of the cake because they aren’t edible. I like to think that when I make a cake, it’s pretty much all going to be edible apart from some structural stuff like cake board, cake cases or dowels (to hold together larger cakes).
For me, buttercream is more of a creative and logical endeavour. There is something challenging about trying to figure out how you can represent something in buttercream. You need to figure it all out structurally and see if you can do it, and kind of hold your breath and see if it works out. You never really know how a cake is going to look. I have an idea in my head and then I try and make it happen. As a child I was fascinated by making 3D models out of 2D paper and card, and there is this one intelligence test they sometimes gave us where you have to mentally rotate shapes – I was really good at that. So it must appeal to something in my psyche.
The couple getting married were friends we made not so long ago. In fact we met them at a barbecue party held by my other friend I talked about on my post The last cake. It was about a year ago when E had a party and I’d made a birthday cake (this time a rainbow cake because everyone likes a rainbow!), and I remember one person at the barbecue who was just the most open, friendly, lovely person – that person was K.
K is someone who takes friendship pretty seriously. (Or maybe she isn’t serious at all – she’s always chuckling away.) We got on really well at the barbecue and somehow just ended up being friends. She wasn’t shy at all about reaching out. She wanted to stay in touch. She emailed me, texted me, and we met up and did stuff. It was cool because I think generally British people can be kind of shy about making the first move, even if it’s friendship-wise rather than romantically. Like I probably wouldn’t make that much effort to re-meet a friend of a friend – I would just (in a British reserved way) wait until we’d met a few times. K didn’t bother with that – she just leapt straight into being friends. She’s nice like that!
I found out that K was a cancer survivor when she announced one day that she was in the clear… She had been in remission for the right number of years to be considered all clear. This is someone who just exudes happiness. I mean, she’s just not a difficult type at all… I always think of her as smiley and happy. And maybe it’s because she’s stared down cancer and won. Or maybe she was always a nice person. I don’t know; all I know is that when she asked me to make her wedding cake, I jumped at the chance.
She pretty much trusted me to do whatever, so I committed to making a three tier sponge cake, and I was going to do three tiers of fairly plain cakes and decorate them with buttercream flowers, but then, somehow on the cake-making day I thought I would try and challenge myself.
K and her husband were getting married at a place called Brighton Pavilion. It’s a very fancy place, and I’m not quite sure of the history of it but it looks like a huge palace. It has these domes and all this decoration on. K had mentioned she’d quite like it if we could incorporate some kind of nod to it in the cake, and I thought it would be tricky to do so I didn’t commit to it (saying something vague about just a wedding cake and flowers) but then on the day I thought, what the heck. I’ll give it a go.
This is Brighton Pavilion.
Now, as I mentioned, buttercream is not the icing (“frosting” if you’re American) for literal takes on anything. Buttercream is to fondant/sugarpaste like painting is to technical drawing. You could do a really literal take on something by using buttercream (or painting) but a lot of the beauty of it is in doing your own interpretation. I’m not going to sit there and mould cake into domes and fondant/sugarpaste into ornate and photo-realistic facsimiles of an architectural vision. That would take a bit longer than a day for starters, plus it would be a bit yucky to eat and nigh on impossible to transport in a reliable way to Brighton. (Brighton is on the South coast of England, probably around 1.5 hours from London depending on where you’re coming from.)
I baked the three cakes on Wednesday evening after work. It takes ages – the largest one is 12 inches and it takes at least two hours to bake. I got them all done and left them to cool overnight. I started on Thursday morning, my day off. I crumb coated the cakes – and then I covered them in buttercream. And then I started to make the cake. I can’t really explain the whole creative process as I just sort of do it and hope for the best.
The cake turned out looking like this. I was pretty pleased with it. I think it was a bit more interesting than a standard wedding cake, and it reflected the couple’s quirky side. It took me pretty much all day, around 12 hours with chilling time and the fact that I’d prepped some of the stuff beforehand. I just put 4music on tv and went into my creative zone. (For what it’s worth, I had All About The Bass stuck in my head for most of it. I even got T singing along to it all weekend.)
For those who are interested: the bottom tier was Victoria sponge with raspberry jam; the middle tier was lemon sponge with lemon curd, and the top tier was vanilla sponge with vanilla buttercream. The whole thing is covered and decorated with buttercream and topped with buttercream piped roses. Literally everything is edible because it’s piped out of buttercream, apart from some dowels to keep the cakes in place, and cake boards.
We took the cake down to Brighton on the Friday morning and luckily it survived, and everyone said they loved it. So that felt all warm and tickly. And we had a great time at the wedding! It was a lovely informal and understated affair – with lots of quirky little touches and a lot of home made parts to it, including two seagulls dressed as a bride and groom! (Brighton is famous for seagulls… squawk.) I did feel fairly rough the next day as we aren’t used to Brighton drinks prices – Londoners get very excited when you don’t need a letter from your bank manager to buy a drink! Note to self: Don’t drink so much!
My friend who I think I mentioned had been having a few qualms about looking good enough on her wedding day – well, she was radiant and lovely. As I had told her – brides always are, because they’re happy. (I am always right, especially when it comes to the beauty of my friends.) The groom was so happy as well – he posted on Facebook that it was the happiest day of his life to be marrying K. And that’s what every girl wants, right? A guy who finds her the cause of the greatest happiness he’s ever known.
I’m a lucky little beast because I’ve had several great loves in my life. Yes, there’s been heartache and the sadness of my very long term relationship ending will always be something I wish neither of us had to go through. But I am pretty darned grateful for the experiences I’ve had. I definitely have my days of feeling down about things but right now there are things happening and I have to hope that they’re going to end up being good things.
Firstly, my operation has finally come through. I’m going to be going under tomorrow for an operation to remove the fibroid that’s currently taken up residence in my uterus. It was identified during the miscarriage and thought to be a possible cause of my [very long term] infertility and/or the miscarriage. So I’ve been wanting it out since July really. I was on the NHS (National Health Service – subsidised in UK) waiting list to see a gynaecologist but fortunately BUPA (private health insurance) finally decided to let me see a consultant, and he was able to fit me in this weekend. So if you don’t hear from me again – I might be dead! (Only joking, I have a dark sense of humour. I’m sure I’ll be fine – I’ve had two laparoscopies before for endometriosis. I quite enjoy them, or the morphine / time off work!) Anyway, seriously if I happen to die, that would be really unfortunate and statistically unlikely – one of my blogfriends who knows me on FB will have to tell you all! I am sure this won’t happen!
Secondly, I finally decided to send the letter to my ex’s lawyer. I really ummed and awed about this because I think when it comes down to it, I really don’t want to cause pain to someone else if I can help it. But I can’t let it run forever. So I had some e-conversations about it so he knew it was going to be coming, and then I bit the bullet and sent it. We found out this week that “our” house has had its price dropped… It’s really disappointing not to be able to put an offer on it as we would definitely have enough to have the offer accepted, now the price has been lowered. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens with my ex and whether we can reach an agreement any time soon. I also am one of those people who tries to think: If something doesn’t happen then it wasn’t meant to be (not in a silly destiny way but more in the way of: something else will come along and it will be even better). To be honest, I am more hoping that we can get everything legally sorted so I am not connected to one person more than I am connected with T, because it just feels illogical right now that I could be more connected with my ex than the potential father of my child.
Thirdly and finally: Holiday!
It’s a little bit of good luck that my operation’s come round for tomorrow, because it means that my sick leave / recuperation time will take me right up to the start of my holiday. Which means that I’ll have a nice long break off work! It will be more or less the same time I had off work with the miscarriage, but for a much nicer reason. (Everything we are doing is sort of because of the miscarriage, because we wouldn’t have taken this holiday if I was pregnant, but I’ll focus on the happy part rather than the sad part.) So it’s pretty cool to think that once I leave work tonight, I won’t be back in for AGES!
So we are off to the Magic Kingdom. And we’ve come a long way since the heartbroken not-parents after the miscarriage.
I’ll be fibroidless as of tomorrow evening.
I’ll have a nice week of snuggling with Dog and taking it easy, before packing him off for his holidays (coincidentally, to K and her new husband – who are desperate for a dog! Not sure this feeling will last after a fortnight of our naughty one!). I’ll pack up all my Disney themed clothing and try and pack light so we can get everything into the one bag we decided to take – and so we have plenty of allowance for bringing back some shopping!
I’m super excited as I’ve done a lot of the planning and admin up front so we should have some really good experiences. (For those of you who don’t know, planning a trip to Orlando is apparently like a military operation.) I’ve booked fastpasses so we can get onto the rides we want. And I’ve booked the one restaurant I was desperate to go to – Be Our Guest (from Beauty and the Beast – my favourite Disney movie) – three times! We have breakfast, lunch and dinner. To non-Disney-ites this is no biggy but to Disneyfans this is HUGE. BOG is almost impossible to get reservations so it is a coup! I’m desperate to go for dinner as it’s the only time you get to see the Beast. I’m sure it is wrong for a grown adult to get that excited about things, but I am! (I will be trying the grey stuff. I’m sure it’s delicious.)
We decided on our Halloween costumes for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – we are going as Thing 1 and Thing 2. (Quite easy; red t shirts with Thing 1 / Thing 2 written on and blue wigs.) I considered something more extravagant but we are British, after all. And the costumes I already have aren’t really suitable for a family event!
We are going to see our friends on the way to New York. They are two guys who were happily married last year. (I’m so glad men can marry each other now!) I went to uni with one of them and we are still in touch even though he lives in the USA now. We get on really well and can talk like nobody’s business on the phone. I love that there are people who still chat on the phone! They are in the process for adoption so we will probably have some chats about that when we are there. Or maybe we won’t. We are looking forward to catching up anyway.
In New York we are staying in an airbnb so we can pretend to be locals. It’s all very exciting as I’ve never done Airbnb before! Bit worrying really! I guess if the worst comes to the worst we will get a hotel, but they have good reviews. Last year we stayed in a 5* hotel but we like pretending to be locals. We have loads of fun experiences planned for New York, including one of my lifelong ambitions (well, adult ambitions), to see The Lion King musical. We are really spoiling ourselves! We want one last holiday where we don’t worry too much about money – we have saved a lot this year – and we can just have a great time and get over the miscarriage. Before we start IVF again and before we try and save really hard for our house.
I always go to America and think I might get put off it but I never do. Today I entered the Green Card Lottery! It’s an annual event where you can register if you were born in certain countries for a chance to win one of 50,000 US visas. It’s a very long shot, but still – shows you how much I love America! (I only qualify because I was born in a qualifying country and then adopted by British parents – so there are some upsides to being adopted!) I’m sure it will never happen, but if you don’t enter then you can’t complain about not winning!
So I think that’s us all up to date. There are lots of other things going on too. I’ve an overdue blog post to write about my experience with a certain woman at work (ugh) and also my thoughts on the viral ultrasound post going round lately. But right now, I’m trying to get everything wrapped up so I can leave work with a clear mind and head off to my operation and holiday filled with happy!