I’m still waiting, in this enhanced two week wait (before the first ultrasound that gives an indication but no guarantee of viability) so I’ve been trying to distract myself. Unfortunately when working one’s notice this means there isn’t a whole lot of work to distract yourself with, and also it leaves you (well, me) a bit open to the whole “Getting annoyed with everyone in the world” thing, probably exacerbated by social media.
So here in no particular order are the things that are annoying me this week…
- Rude people. This category encompasses almost everyone on the Being Annoying list. I just think the whole world would be much nicer if everyone was nice to each other instead of being rude.
- Antisocial behaviour (such as manspreading and BO) on public transport. Travelling on public transport is not fun at the best of times. And I’m not pregnant officially so nobody gives up their seat for me. (I really want to make it to 12 weeks so I can get a smug-pregnant-person’s badge. Transport for London does these Baby on Board badges which are meant to be so you can offer a pregnant lady a seat without being scared to offend someone who isn’t pregnant. I’ve never had one although this is the second time I’ve been pregnant.) I actually got up and moved away from a person the other day whose legs were manspreading into my seat. And being pregnant, this may be a symptom or it may just be my extreme sensitivity to smell, but I cannot stand the body odour of some people on the tube – it is making me feel sick. Another time last week I actually asked a guy to stop hitting me with his rucksack. He just went and stood in front of me and kept moving around so it was banging into me and I was like, Can you stop hitting me with your rucksack? Everyone on the tube was flabbergasted as people in London don’t actually like to make eye contact, let alone tell someone when they’re p*ssing you off. But he stopped, and I just stood there being angry.
- Entitled millennials. Now I am an official old person but I have had it up to HERE (imagine a marker) with millennials and their stupid bitching about nothing. Like, seriously, someone asked you to turn your music down because it was 4am on a weekday? How dare they! (This is a specific reference to my horrible new neighbour who has surpassed even my previous Neighbour From Hell in inconsiderate behaviour, and woke up everyone in the block by playing loud music at 4-5am – her excuse being that she suffers from “anxiety and depression and bipolar” and needed to invite some friends round for an unplanned party because of it. Because her right to feel not lonely surpasses everyone else’s right not to be woken up in the middle of the night. She has now started a war on our apartment’s Facebook page saying everyone is being horrible to her and anyone who doesn’t like it is obviously OLD.) No consideration for other people… And I realise I’m sounding like my parents here.
- Being a childless woman. It’s like you get all the crap bits about being female (sexism, big sore boobs, periods / side effects from IVF drugs) and none of the good bits! Smug mums banging on about breastfeeding! Mums in general whinging about their children in a completely annoying way when other people would do anything to have a child. People who do bad things to their own children. It’s just depressing that people who don’t deserve children seem to have no problem popping them out, and then us infertiles have to suffer psychological anguish because we don’t get to have children.
- Pregnancy after loss. I literally can’t enjoy it because I’m just waiting for it to end. It’s nice we got this far but I don’t have any faith in it right now. I’m beginning to hope, and I sort of hate myself for hoping because we hoped last time and it didn’t work. I don’t want to be this fat, swollen and hormonally ranty without actually ever getting to enjoy pregnancy. I can’t just “snap out of it”. Maybe I’ll feel better IF we get to 12 weeks, but we’re not even halfway there yet. This sucks. It also means I have to keep making excuses and sounding like an antisocial ***** because I don’t want to go out drinking and have to make up a lame reason why I’m off alcohol. I just want to get to the point where we can acknowledge the pregnancy. I guess that’s 12-14 weeks.
- Solicitors/lawyers. OMG What do they actually do? We’ve been waiting for our house to go through for like FOUR MONTHS. We have all the money ready to go. They’re just delaying over nothing. I feel so mad that I could have spent my notice period on holiday and moved house but instead we are stressing that it might not even happen before I start my new job next month. And I really don’t need that stress. As for the divorce… When can I have it? This is ridiculous. I’ve been with T longer than I was actually actively married. I might be having a baby with him, and my divorce from my ex still hasn’t bloody been finalised. It’s like lawyers just make money out of other people’s pain. ARGH.
I’m sure there are loads of other reasons why I’m angry. Maybe I’m PANGRY. (Pregnant-angry. Who knows. Maybe I’m imminent-pregnancy-loss-angry.) I definitely seem to be thinking more evil thoughts lately. Although I haven’t said much to people about it. I just think them in my head.
Sit with me on this one… I may be some time.
This week has been a bit of a slog. I like to keep profanity off this blog (for some reason I’m one of those people who worries about releasing swear words into cyberspace) but, really, thank €#%¥ it’s Friday!
Anyone else enjoyed their week as little as I have? In the spirit of trying to see the good in everything, I give you:
The rubbish bits
- My work is literally the most thankless task at times. (All times.) This week I’ve been yet again working on a project where they’re really rude. I’m basically doing them a favour but they treat me like the proverbial – and I’m one of the most senior people on the project. It reached a tipping point yesterday when the director told me that he wasn’t interested in my expert opinion (when they’d brought me onto the project to give my expert opinion) and “We’re going to break the business anyway” (when I said I couldn’t recommend a course of action they wanted me to recommend, as it would in my opinion be detrimental to the business). Not being able to act with integrity I find hugely depressing.
- Annoying woman at work is still annoying, and is still hugely pregnant, and I still want to smack her in the face. But I won’t, because that would be bad. It’s nice to think about it though.
- I don’t get to spend enough time with Dog, as I feel like I’m working long hours right now. Yesterday I did around a 12hr day even though I was working from home, so I feel guilty for not giving him enough attention.
- My favourite work friend who sits opposite me handed in her notice. She has a new job with a great payrise so I’m happy for her! But I’ll miss her.
- I have to work this weekend because I have to prep for Monday’s presentation (see below).
- I’m still infertile! Ha. (I just added that for effect. It hasn’t changed or gotten worse or anything.)
The good stuff
Because life isn’t that bad! I just feel all tired and end of the week-ish.
- We won the pub quiz! There’s this team who always win, but this week we won! We don’t go every week but it’s nice as there are a bunch of people from our block of flats and other friends who occasionally turn up. So that’s nice.
- I managed a new YTD low on weight loss. -4.8kg, yesterday. The fact that I cancelled it out by going out drinking last night is just minorly annoying. Hopefully I’ll be net down on last week! I measure myself every morning and compare it to this time last week. Today I was still down but not by as much! At least austerity is helping. (I tend to go up again at the weekend – boo!)
- I had one of my second interviews this week and it went pretty well. I don’t know if they’ll offer or not but it would be nice if they do as I would have some escape options. I have the other second interview Monday night. Am less looking forward to it as I have to give a presentation, which is one of the things I hate the most in the world!
- We had a nice night out as a trio (me, T and Dog) as we went out for a friend’s birthday. The friend lives the other side of London so we don’t see her very often, and she also has a dog and we get on really well. It was nice to see her and her boyfriend and dog, and reminded me that sometimes it’s good to make an effort to stay in touch. It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane day to day tedious stuff and not make enough time for fun!
- A friend of mine from school started a whatsapp group to share some old photos she found. They were really funny. I’m still in touch with everyone but they’re not in touch with each other, so we got them added to the group (I think five of us in total) and had a bit of a chat and a reminisce and a laugh about the old photos (turns out I’ve always had b*tchy resting face) and it was a nice little interlude in the week.
- We may have bought a house! Well, a flat. We saw one last weekend and really liked it. It’s teeny but has lots of character and is in our preferred area. We put in an offer this week and waited to hear. Then they said they’d accept if we offered the asking price as we were the favourite buyers. (They had 3 offers but I tried to build a rapport by email – I think it worked!) So now we have an offer accepted and just need to try and get all the legal stuff in place. I really hope it works out!
So that’s it really. Highs and lows of a very tiring week. Sometimes I’m just too tired to process anything until Saturday morning! I’m hunkering down for a night in with Doglet – after a couple of nights out this week I’m very tired, so obviously getting on a bit! T is out with the boys so I’m in with my boy-Dog and we are lying on the sofa reading (me) and snoring (Dog). It’s a gentle way to finish the week!
Plans for the weekend involve (annoyingly) prepping for the presentation. But some other nice things – planning to go to the flicks with a friend tomorrow night (T is off with one of his friends from overseas who’s in town) and we are meeting another couple of friends for brunch on Sunday. These two are quite hilarious in the way that they’re always exceedingly drunk! Unfortunately I won’t be able to drink if I want to be on my A game for the interview on Monday. Probably a good thing!
Happy weekend y’all! Tell me what you’re up to!
I decided based on yesterday’s post to have a look at the private clinics. It’s a minefield. I looked for a single league table comparison of fertility clinics in London but it doesn’t exist. That’s because, as anyone knows (and I know in my job where I’m always asked to benchmark things), there’s no such thing as a like for like comparison.
The closest I can find is the HFEA website that compares different clinics’ data based on your search. But when you’re just an old “unexplained infertility” type then it doesn’t really help.
Also, I’m now into the older age bracket. The not-quite-40 but the one where all the stats show that suddenly the success rate drops.
I feel like crying.
Really, honestly, I feel like I’ve wasted years of my life when I could have been trying to sort this out. It’s not through anything being different in terms of my reproductive health – I had problems that were identified way back when I was 25, so it’s not like it would have worked then. But I think it’s a mind game. Me turning that age where your ovaries are supposed to have shrivelled up doesn’t change the fact that I had problems whatever age I was. It’s not like I was sitting around not doing anything… I was in a long term relationship and we were doing what you’re supposed to do to have a baby… I really should have a few by now.
I haven’t done anything “wrong” and yet I feel like a f***ing failure, and that it’s too late to do things now because all the stats say 1 in 4 is the most I can hope for.
And I feel angry. I feel angry that it comes so bloody easily to everyone else. Even my friend who did IVF had a baby first time round and then whoopsie, had another one with no problems at all. WTF. Everyone else who has this “infertility” thing is worried about two years of trying or whatever and I have had SIXTEEN BLOODY YEARS. And I’m no closer to anything than these platitudes of “Oh well, 1 in 4, 1 in 8, just keep trying…” – what do you think I’ve been doing for 16 years? Like pretty much my whole adult life?
Today I’m feeling sorry for myself.
I can scrape together £5k. I can maybe even scrape £10k if I had six months to do it. But that doesn’t change the fact that the stats are completely against me.
I don’t feel empowered by the data. I feel even more depressed, because I have a stats background and I can see how bleak the picture is. In the 1 in 4 (best case for women my age, my rough eyeballing of London data) most of those have been preselected by the clinic. (For example ARGC, the clinic with the best success rate in London – they preselect patients. Plus it can cost £15k or whatever and it usually happens by cycle 4. I’m sorry, I don’t have a spare £60k.) In the 1 in 4 there are women who’ve been trying for a year and have gotten impatient and worried when if they’d left it, they’d probably have gotten pregnant anyway.
I’ve had many many opportunities to get pregnant over 16 years and it has never. once. happened. Unless you count IVF where it happened but didn’t get there. So excuse me for being brusque but FFS there must be a reason. For sure, we can “keep trying and it might happen naturally” which is what the doctor told us at the hospital yesterday. But the stats are not on our side. If it hasn’t happened for 16 years, really, honestly, tell me what the chances are of it happening now. I’ll give it a rough guess: less than 1%.
Yes, miracle babies do occur, but I think by now we’re all familiar with infertility-lore where you adopt a baby and then get pregnant naturally, or you quit your job and get pregnant naturally, or you “just relax” and you get pregnant naturally, or you have successful IVF and then get pregnant naturally – none of those things are happening to me any time soon. Plus I feel like any adopted child might feel a bit – miffed? – to find out he/she has only been used as a fertility prop.*
(* This is not a dig at anyone, including my parents to whom it happened! I’m just feeling mad and sad today, and also I feel like I’m always having to be an apologist for adoption – because I’m alright jack – and also I feel like most people don’t understand that adoption in the UK is different, with a very small proportion of kids adopted out of care, and having been forcibly removed from their families due to adverse circumstances, because we don’t have that same social stigma of unmarried mothers here. So no, I don’t want my child to have been a victim of abuse before they come to me. I just don’t feel equipped to deal with that. I’ve written about it a lot, but I feel like I always have to clarify. Really, there’s a lot on my blog about it so before suggesting adoption please read it.)
I don’t know what I’m trying to say today. I still have a super positive fun Christmassy post to write (I promise I’ve been keeping myself busy with nice stuff) but sometimes I just want to scream.
Or I feel like I have to face up to it – the idea that I may never have kids. I spoke with a friend about this recently – she’s a couple of years older than me and she’s accepted not having kids. Her partner has a child and had a vasectomy, and she’s thought about it and come to terms with the fact that it would be too difficult to change that and time is not in her favour. I admire that. She’s one of the most positive, lovely people I know. (I try only to know positive lovely people!) I sort of feel like if I could get to that point then I could focus on embracing that.
I’ve been thinking of childlessness more lately, and how I identify. As women, so much is implicit in our identity – and intrinsic to that is the ability to bear children. Let’s face it, that’s what boobs are for. (Weirdly they weren’t invented to be jacked up with plastic and to bury men’s faces in, whatever they’d have you believe.) I think a large part of my identity has been to be ostensibly childfree – I’ve always been the fun big sister / aunt / fairy godmother / friend. I’m pretty invested in a lot of people and I enjoy the whole family and friends thing. But in the back of my mind I always thought I would eventually have kids.
My lack of kids with my ex was probably in hindsight where a lot of the problems lay. We did all the stuff you’re meant to do: going out, cohabiting, marriage, but then there was nowhere to go. Even with all of our shared history we didn’t have a foundation for our future happiness – I don’t mean that it’s dependent on children or that I’d ever put it on children. But it was a different scenario than my current relationship with T. I feel like with T, and with Dog, I already have a family. We already have this strong foundation of belonging and security and love and fun, and if we never have a child, we can refocus on those things. Maybe I’m not explaining it well but I feel like there has to be something else tying you together other than moving onto the next stage and a shared history – I know because I had all that and it wasn’t enough. We had love, too, and I’d never want to downplay that, but it was like we had too much pain between the two of us to move forward.
Anyway, today I’m having an Eeyore moment. (Thanks Ashley!) I really have been touched by the responses to my previous post and all you wonderful ladies providing support. I know there’s hope – but sometimes it’s exhausting. I know there’s happiness – but sometimes it’s fleeting. And I know there’s love – and that’s what counts. If my life ends tomorrow, I know I’ve enjoyed it. (Though NB please remember me at a thinner weight!) Ach, I’ll get through. I always do. I just need to believe that one day in the future we’ll be able to look back and say Look how far we’ve come…
It’s been a while since I had an update on our fertility treatments what with the holidaying and back to working, so I thought a status update was somewhat overdue.
The first consultation for our next IVF cycle was meant to be this afternoon. Instead it has been put back a month or so as we were informed last week that there’s a problem as no doctors are in next week.
I can’t complain really. We are in the UK, which means we get treated (almost*) for free on the NHS (National Health Service). The cost of IVF is nothing like it is for you guys overseas as we are not expected to fund it ourselves as long as we are eligible. There are some strict-ish criteria, like you can’t be treated on the NHS over a certain age (I think it’s 39 or 40 but either way, older than I currently am) and I think you have to be healthy in terms of not being chronically obese etc. The rules for entry and number of cycles vary from trust to trust but in our catchment area in London it means we are eligible for up to three cycles.
(*Almost free as everyone has to pay something called National Insurance contributions from their salaries which fund things like the NHS and public services. This means we are contributing towards it but some are contributing more than others, such as those who are unemployed/retired – and some pay taxes without ever using the service. We also pay a prescription fee of around £9 per prescription and on my last cycle I probably used around 5 prescriptions – obviously less than if you get them privately. A lot of people also have private health insurance subsidised through work – I pay for mine but it’s less than if I got it not through work, which is for example why I was able to get my fibroid operated on in a shorter time than if I’d waited for my NHS turn to come round. So indicatively a cycle of IVF cost me around £50 last time for prescriptions and the tax I pay from my salary, whereas it would cost around £5000 upwards to go private.)
This also means we are somewhat more passive than active consumers – we are told our protocols, and we don’t get to pick whether there is any testing or any further investigation of reasons for infertility. In our trust the investigations extended as far as treating my known endometriosis, doing some scans, and removing a fibroid found during the miscarriage. For T it was a sperm test (for which he got the all clear and was so chuffed with himself he demanded a certificate!). Those along with my medical history of 15+ years of never getting pregnant were enough to jump right to IVF. There was a brief chat about IUI but the doctor advised me at my advanced age to get on with IVF! There was no investigation of why I might be infertile.
Of course I’d never wish to be subject to the whims of insurance funding or worse off, funding it ourselves. We could probably scrape together a cycle (which would have replaced our holiday this year and probably Christmas too). Maybe our parents might fund another cycle – T’s sibling doesn’t look likely to have kids so it would be the only chance of a grandchild on his side. And my parents were overjoyed when we announced our ultimately doomed pregnancy.
However it does feel like we can’t really ask for stuff. We can’t ask for tests. As a stats fan (and T is too, and much better at maths) I’m always asking why they aren’t maximising chances by testing. T says it’s a numbers game. By which he means most people who get referred on the NHS have fertility problems that would get treated by a dose or three of IVF. Tests cost more and probably only solve the problems of a few. Most people have one or two years of infertility, not 15. After miscarriage followed our first IVF cycle, I can’t help feeling that if there is something I could do to avoid that pain, I’d do it. But our treatment is in essence free so we don’t get to ask for those tests. And many people do have successful pregnancies from NHS treatments.
It’s not a great consolation though to those of us who are on the wrong side of the stats. I read all the blogs out there (well, not all!) and they talk about auto immune problems, and scary sounding reasons why my body might be incapable of getting pregnant on its own. In the time since July when I had the miscarriage, we’ve had plenty of opportunity to try things “the natural way”… We’ve taken antenatal vitamins and done the deed at appropriate times as given by apps or ovulation sticks. But I have little faith. (T says I need to believe but after 15 years, I don’t.) I’d love to be that couple for whom it happens but I really doubt it will be us (like my friend from uni who had one via IVF and then boom! Another one naturally within a year).
I guess part of me wants a Dr Braverman to tell me what’s what. But our doctors are fantastic and sympathetic (and one in particular is a total hottie! Even though he was probably still at school when I was at uni!) and so I’m not complaining. The NHS is overstretched and who are we to demand treatment for something that isn’t life threatening… I feel mad at the unfairness of it all, that I can’t do something so simple and human that school kids manage it first time. The irony that I was the result of an unwanted (or unkeepable) pregnancy.
And related to this, I wanted to tell you about something that happened a while ago at work, because I’m still sad/angry (sangry!) about it. It was quite a while ago now. I guess a week or so after I was back from the two and a bit weeks off I had for the miscarriage.
I was sitting in the office minding my own business and trying to finish some work. As you might know if you followed my first IVF cycle, I was on the Project From Hell which meant I was working all the hours in all the days on a very stressful project. And yes, I was probably bloated from the pregnancy and the drugs.
This woman – I refer to her as Cray-Cray – came over to speak with me. I can’t say I’ve ever encouraged it give her crazy reputation. This is someone who, following the birth of her child emailed a set of extremely gory photos of the baby, fresh out of the vajayjay to an entire list of work people – including ones far more important than me. Since then everyone has been like, oh, [her name], she’s crazy!
For one thing I have an infertile woman’s resentment of women who bring their children to work / plaster the workspace with photos and artwork and bring them into the office during holidays. I’m not kidding you – Christmas time turns into crèche time every few days, with screeching children running around the office. And when someone has a baby, it’s practically the rules that they bring it in for people to coo over. I don’t work in a very informal environment – it’s pretty corporate – but unfortunately the rules are relaxed for children and they’re probably too scared to say anything for fear of being sued. I find it kind of unfair that the rule isn’t the same for dogs but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. (I’d probably stay even later hours if my dog was allowed to come in to the office.)
For another thing, Cray-Cray is quite simply too intense for everyday conversation. Unfortunately for me there are very few women in my group who do exactly what I do so she decided we are the same. (I am actually super encouraging of women and I feel it’s my duty to encourage and help the more junior women… But perhaps you’ll understand my stance when you read the next bit.) I always felt a bit guilty that my first instinct was to make excuses to stop talking with her. She has this way of staring into your eyes in a very intense way and quite frankly I find it deeply offputting.
Anyway, the conversation went something like this…
Cray-Cray: Hi Nara, are you busy?
Me: [still staring at computer screen and typing] Yes, I’m pretty busy right now.
CC: [ignoring obvious cue to leave me alone] How are you?
CC: [ignoring the universally acknowledged “Fine”-means-I-do-not-want-to-talk cue] So how is work going?
N: Fine… I’m very busy right now.
[Insert brief exchange re clients and work where she tells me she would like to work for me on some project if there is a space and I’m thinking, over my dead freaking body…]
CC: So how’s your personal life? [WTF? Who even asks that?!]
N: It’s fine thanks; how are you?
CC: Where are you living now? [What? I genuinely don’t understand where this woman learned the art of conversation as it wasn’t from a human.]
N: [My area of London].
CC: Oh, you should move over to near me!
N: I probably couldn’t afford it. [Thinking: When oh when are you going to go away?]
Then The Thing happens.
It happens almost in slow motion. Cray-Cray focuses her crazy stare on my stomach. Bear in mind I am sitting down, I’m maybe a size 10-12 (6-8 US) compared with the 8-10 (4-6) I’ve always been before, but still not very large, not obese or anything. I’m still probably in the bottom quartile of my friends, or maybe I just hang out with larger people or something, but I don’t feel like I am chronically obese even though I want to lose weight like all women seem to want to do.
CC: [Staring very obviously at my stomach, more obviously than anyone ever could… Unambiguously] So… ANY NEWS?
CC continues to make crazy eyes at me and my IVF / miscarriage / sitting down stomach.
Me: No. I don’t know what you’re trying to say. Are you saying I’ve put on weight? I’m not pregnant, if that’s what you are trying to ask.
CC literally doesn’t miss a beat and continues yapping, entirely oblivious or uncaring about the upset / offence she has caused. For another few minutes.
I don’t hear what she is saying because the sound in my ears is white noise.
It’s that anger, that sad-angry burning white resentment of her and everything she stands for.
She’s a mother. Some crazy f***er has actually chosen to impregnate her. (Did she talk incessantly and stare wildly into his eyes during the deed? One can only try to put that horrific image out of one’s mind.) She has a healthy child. Nobody would wish anything less, but I resent her. I want her to leave me alone, forever. I never want to speak with her ever again. EVERYONE KNOWS YOU NEVER ASK SOMEONE IF THEY ARE PREGNANT, EVEN IF THEIR GIGANTIC PREGNANT BELLY IS RUBBING YOU IN THE FACE. IT’S JUST NOT BRITISH.
Instead, I just try to ignore her until she goes away.
Instead, I tell everyone in the office who will listen the hilarious story (with actions) to demonstrate how cray-cray she is and how not-pregnant I am.
Most people find it hysterical. We are British (she is not – Portuguese I think) and it is unthinkable to any Brits that anyone would ever ask if someone was pregnant. You don’t even mention it until there’s a huge bump in your face and even then you probably only offer them a seat on the tube without mentioning it.
Never has this happened to me before. Yes, people inappropriately ask about plans for having children but never has someone done something so blatantly offensive and upsetting as this.
Anyway, it’s now months later. I’m more or less over it, but then what happens last week but she has decided – in this age of hotdesking – to come and sit in my aisle. I have a fixed desk because of a specific thing I was working on. So do a bunch of people round me. There is a whole office of hot desks, and she has decided in her infinite, CRAY CRAY wisdom, that the best place to sit would be right by me!
You couldn’t make it up.
Footnote: I have my period today. (Of course I do… The ultimate punishment for infertiles.) It’s about a week early. This means that I have even less patience than normal… and every time I have to walk past Cray-Cray I want to slap her.
I don’t like to rant, and I may end up deleting this. But it’s been brewing for a while now and today it came to a head when my mother called me to check how I was after the op I had yesterday.
The op was to remove the fibroid they found in my uterus during the miscarriage, the end of my one and only pregnancy following our first round of IVF.
But first, let me tell you about my brother.
I’ve referred to him on here before as Real First Born, or RFB. In many cases we refer to him as the golden child or similar. RFB has a charmed existence and it’s taken me every bone in my body growing up with him in my family not to resent him and not to blame him for the easy life he’s had. (Because, adoptees and infertiles: I truly believe that it’s not the fault of fortunate people that they are more fortunate.)
Backtrack. If you’ve read my blog a bit, you’ll know I was adopted. I’m generally fine with it, but there are complexities around feeling secure in your place in the world and in your family, and around wanting a biological child – the only person in your life who would be biologically related to you, who would look a little like you, a little like their other parent.
RFB was the miracle child. He was born when my parents had given up hope. They’d adopted two children; they thought they were happy with this. He’s the spitting image of my dad. He’s named after my maternal grandfather, the one my mother could never impress (and who didn’t live to see any of his grandchildren, just as well as he sounded like a nasty piece of work). Our youngest sibling is also an unexpected but has had a harder life, being gay.
RFB, on the other hand, is the archetypal English man. Wholesome, sports playing, well educated (but not that clever! As we Brits like our middle class men to be!). RFB was never bullied (apart from by his older siblings, probably). He was always the apple of my mother’s eye, her miracle boy – who could blame her? He breezed through school, playing on all the teams, being exceedingly popular and generating friends and smiles wherever he went. He is a nice guy. He’s nice because he has never known suffering in his life. It is easy to be nice when you only see nice things. I envied him growing up, and I was resentful. It’s taken me a lot to try and get over that, and not to blame him for his easy life. Mostly I’m fine and we get on well. But occasionally he doesn’t think. (My mum says “He’s a man!” as an excuse, and blames it all on his wife.)
He married his childhood sweetheart. They never dated anyone else. They had their first child with no problems, and then they decided to have another one a few years later, and of course got pregnant just fine. They’ve just moved to a huge new house – trading up. She’s even given up work just because they can. (We would struggle on a single salary… even though we earn more, they don’t have an ex to support!) Even down to the fact that they have the “perfect” one boy followed by one girl. Without even trying they just get everything anyone wants. Really, they would make you sick even without anything else!
I keep telling myself that nice things happen to nice people. But then I think: Am I not nice? Seriously, all the crap I’ve been through… Am I not nice because of it? Or do bad things happen because I’m not nice? I think mean thoughts sometimes. And I think maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself today.
Anyway, back to history. For their last (first, previous) child, they decided to announce that he would be christened on a certain day. This day fell right in the middle of a skiing holiday I’d booked six months before. It was one week holiday and it came at a very bad time in my life, when I’d just separated from my husband and I really hadn’t been away at all. It was my first holiday with friends and they were so supportive of me. And they couldn’t rearrange the christening at all apparently (a month in advance rather than six months in advance). My holiday was all paid for and I was very short of money so it would mean no other holidays that year.
My brother wanted me to cancel or postpone my holiday. I looked into going late and missing three days (half the holiday!) to attend the christening. Bearing in mind I was one of FIVE siblings between them. I mean, I wasn’t really necessary to arrangements. I worked out that to delay and get separate flights and transfers would cost around £600. In the end I just couldn’t afford it and I went on holiday and took part in the christening by Skype. Yes, churches can do Skype!
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My brother sent me a message saying “We are going to get Little Miss christened on your birthday weekend. Hope you don’t mind.”
What. The. ????
Let’s consider this. He’s well aware that I’ve lost a baby and I am meant to be pregnant right now. I would be sporting a nice big bump and foregoing wine and generally being a smug pregnant person. Instead I’ve just had an operation to remove a fibroid that was taking up residence in my womb, that likely prevented my pregnancy from progressing. Bear in mind that Little Miss has not even been born yet. She’s due in a few weeks. She will be teeny tiny by the time my birthday rolls around. In the Christian faith, there isn’t any major imperative to get a child christened within a certain time. Some wait till they’re one or something. There’s no particular religious reason.
Oh and there are FIFTY-ONE other weekends in the year when they could have Little Miss christened.
Why the rush? Apparently it’s because SIL wants Little Miss to wear her christening dress and wants it to fit. I am sure that given she hasn’t even been born yet would mean they aren’t sure what size she’ll be on my birthday weekend, and I don’t see why she would be significantly different in size the weekend before or after.
So let’s think about this:
He knows it’s my birthday.
He knows that we lost our baby and would have been pregnant now.
He knows that the last christening fell during my one holiday booked six months in advance.
He “hopes [I] don’t mind”.
Maybe I’m overreacting. (FWIW, my sibling #2 was absolutely incandescent on my behalf. I haven’t discussed with #4.)
Another bit of history: birthdays are a big deal for me. I’ve had quite a few of them. Maybe it’s an adopted person’s thing. Maybe it’s a me thing. I think being one of four it was our special day. I think having been adopted it was my belonging day. I just know I always found them important. And one of the things with my ex… He never used to celebrate them with me. I used to have these huge parties and he wouldn’t attend. We would do something different, just us. In a decade of birthdays he attended one of my parties (my 30th). It used to make me feel like **** that my partner / husband didn’t want to come to social occasions with me, and even worse on birthdays. So I’d make up for it by having extravagant bashes and telling myself it would be okay.
After we split up, I decided I wasn’t going to give up things that were important to me. I was going to celebrate life and not feel guilty for doing so. I was going to be happy and social rather than scared and isolated. I was going to say what I wanted in relationships and not compromise on important things like: a guy who wants to be seen with you in public, a guy who isn’t afraid to say he loves you every single day, a guy who kisses you on the lips and tells you you’re gorgeous (even when you’re not)…
I found my guy. He does all those things and more. And he was adopted so he knows about some things that we can’t even say. He knows that birthdays are important. On my first one together, he did a special birthday trip to… Disneyland Paris. It was a surprise, and he organised everything from the champagne breakfast to the Disney hotel and telling me all the best rides to go on. After a long time of feeling sad, being happy again. Our birthdays are only a few days apart so we go every year. He loves Christmas just like I do, and we know that we have to go and celebrate our birthdays before Christmas celebrations kick off.
So that’s my feelings on birthdays. And christening. For this one, if I go… I’ll have to spend my birthday dreading the baby talk. I’ll have to be reminded that my baby is dead. If I do anything on my birthday evening, I will have to finish it at a decent hour because I’m going to have to get up super early the next morning to trek across London (an hour and a half) and dress up and go to church for a christening. I’m not religious and I don’t like christenings at the best of times… They are just a reminder to the childless of their barren state. As well as being boring, if you’re me. (I’ve had a lot of experience of church, enough for a lifetime… I admire how people seem to get something out of it, but other than visiting them on holiday to light a candle for granny, I tend to avoid them.)
So back to the call with my mum. She was asking how I’m feeling. I’m feeling fine. Oh and op update (opdate!): the bloody fibroid was larger than any of the scans said. They’d said it was 15mm, then 10mm, then 5mm. I asked if it was changing but apparently you can’t tell on scans. When they got in there it was 25mm! The bugger!
My mum then suggested that they were going to stay in a hotel the night before the christening near my brother, and asked if I wanted to come and stay too and do something for my birthday.
I mean, really. How would I like to travel across London and spend my birthday doing something with my parents away from home and Dog?
I said that it was unlikely. She asked if maybe T would want to come too but he has a ready made excuse and has no intention of attending – it’s his sister’s birthday.
So basically I have a choice.
1) Forego my birthday this year. Suck it up and go to the christening. Leave as early as possible as it will probably be horrendous. Think baby shower x 100. In church. Not to mention they won’t even ask me to make the cake so it will be some monstrosity!
2) Don’t go to the christening. Cause family rift. (My mum said I didn’t have to go but she thought I was overreacting. Also had forgotten until I reminded her that the last one was scheduled during my ski holiday.)
3) Have some understated birthday, like a dinner or something, and try and enjoy it. Finish early and get up early the next day (yuck) and go to the christening.
I’m guessing I will do that. I’m feeling pretty p’d off about it but maybe that’s just a post operative haze.
Sometimes this infertility stuff sucks.
(Or: Sometimes we all need a little rant.)
I think some of you might have gotten a slightly unrealistic view of how optimistic I am, based on some of my previous posts. I mean, I like to try and do jedi mind tricks on myself to try and make the best of things, which I like to think is a rational response to less enjoyable situations. Or in Pollyanna terms, I try and play The Glad Game.
Pollyanna’s philosophy of life centers on what she calls “The Glad Game,” an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna’s father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because “we didn’t need to use them!”
In terms of my many years of infertility, subsequent IVF and miscarriage, I’ve tried to play The Glad Game by identifying and taking joy in the small happinesses and trying not to let this define my life. In many ways, I feel like I’ve moved on in a healthy way following my miscarriage and even though I feel like I think of it in the back of my mind almost every minute of the day, I’m able to rationalise and bring balance by repeatedly focusing on the things I have to be happy about.
The Glad Game: Infertility Edition*
- I don’t have a baby but… isn’t it great I get to have lie ins at the weekend?
- I can’t get pregnant but… I get to stay slim(ish) and I don’t get saggy boobs and stretch marks!
- I don’t have kids but… I have a better job than all my friends who are mums!
- I lost the baby but… I can drink as much wine as I want and eat cheese!
- I had a miscarriage but… at least I know that I can get pregnant after 15 years!
- We don’t have kids but… we can do things at short notice and go on holiday when we want to!
- We aren’t parents but… we have great people (and animals) in our life who we love and care for!
(* I hope you read that in the slightly sarcastic British humour way it was intended!)
Sometimes it’s tiring trying to see the good side of everything.
Sometimes getting upset is a completely rational response. Really… Who can be Pollyanna all the time?
I get the same thoughts as everyone else, and coupled with the British sarcasm and cynicism, I have to tell you that my friends I know in real life would be in hysterics to think that any of you might consider me optimistic! I am “blessed” with a deadpan BRF (do not click that link if your filters are strict… it stands for b—-y resting face!) and no matter what I do, people seem to think I’m in a bad mood. My dad likes to tell people about how I’m the only baby he ever met that could stop an adult from across the room just by staring at them.
I’ve learned over the years how to counteract this – depending on the situation, I force myself to blink (rather than do my special death stare) and smile (despite the fact that I just don’t feel like walking around with an inane grin on my face), and probably by being excessively wordy in an attempt to explain myself. (“I may look like I want you to shrivel up and die but rest assured I really like you, gosh, isn’t that a lovely dress you’re wearing? Will you be my friend?” type stuff… Those of you who read my blog regularly will know the blethery style!)
But… sometimes my defences are down and I have a completely emotional response to something. I’m not immune to the power of frustration and sadness over focusing on the good stuff.
And today was one of those days.
My friends in the infertility community (that club nobody wants to be in) will be familiar with this one.
Sometimes I just see red and today was one of those days.
Note to self: Stay off Facebook.
So, today I was on Facebook, harmlessly minding everyone else’s business (!) and I was presented with a big advert in the middle of the page. I know Facebook likes to do this and has some sort of dodgy data scraping algorithm which decides which adverts you’re going to see. I know how the paid advertising works, because I have a page on Facebook which I’ve occasionally done some advertising for, so I know that you pick out your target audience, either by aiming at friends of people who’ve liked the page (the reasoning being that friends of people who like your product are more likely to like your product than complete strangers, and may have similar interests to their friends) or you can aim at people who like certain things – you put in keywords to do this. For example, if someone has said on their profile that they like rugby, you can target adverts for rugby related clothing or rugby matches.
Anyway, so what do I get this morning (whilst I have a bad headache that may or may not be related to some wine I drank last night) but…
An advert for nappies!
WTF. Do I really need a baby-plastered image advertising nappies (diapers to my American friends!) at this time of the morning when I have a blinding headache and I’ve not long ago lost a baby? Even worse, the name of the company is Beaming Baby which just bloody enraged me. The advert had a literal beaming baby surrounded by nappies and I just thought WHY ARE YOU SHOWING ME THIS?!
What did I do?
I wrote an extremely stroppy message to Beaming Baby.
I told them they needed to review their targeted advertising.
I told them not every over 30 year old has a baby.
I’ve just had a miscarriage.
I’ve never “liked” a baby page and I don’t have anywhere on my profile that I like babies, or am interested in baby stuff.
I’ve occasionally bought presents for baby showers (so I can understand why suggestions come up from amazon, for example) but I DO NOT HAVE A BABY!
Yup… I’m not proud of myself here but I had a slight rant. (They haven’t replied… I’ll tell you if they do.)
The thing is, there’s no button you can press to make the baby stuff go away. (With the Zuckerberg-Chan pregnancy and miscarriage announcement, you’d think there might be.)
Here’s the thing… You can focus on all the great stuff in your life, which I really do try and do, but there comes a time when you are faced with a beaming baby. And all the Glad Games in the world can’t really make up for the fact that you don’t have one.
I don’t have my beaming baby.
I should have been well into my second trimester by now. (I stopped counting so I don’t know exactly… too upsetting to focus on.) I should have been wearing the belly band which is sitting on the side still in its packet, unopened. It arrived the week we were told it might not be good news, so I never opened it. I should have been clear headed this morning because I wouldn’t have been to the pub last night. (We won the pub quiz – still not enough consolation for my baby dying, I’m afraid.) Or… I might have gone to the pub and been able to do that smug-pregnant “I’m not drinking; I’ll have a lemonade” thing, which I never got to do. I could have made jokes about how fat I was getting whilst secretly thinking ha!
But I never got my little beaming baby. I don’t want to be reminded of this all the time. I don’t need reminding. It’s there, my loss, looming in the back of my mind pretty much every minute of every day.
(To be fair, my baby would probably be more cross looking.)
They say women are better at multi-tasking than men; I say this applies to thinking and remembering loss. I can do everything else… I can live my life… I can walk my dog and cuddle him and rejoice in how lucky I am to have the most amazing dog in the world. I can go to my job in the corporate world and talk about stuff that needs a PowerPoint presentation to accompany it. I can go out on adventures with T. I can stay in and watch tv. I can cook dinner. I can be a proper grown up. I can be silly and act like a child.
I can do all of these things because I am a woman. I am strong. I am an expectant mother. I just don’t know when my child is coming… or whether the one I lost is the only one I’m ever going to have.
So… here’s my thought for the day.
If we can put out positivity then eventually, by the law of averages, it’s going to come back. But we have no way of controlling how it comes back. I might be blessed in my life in all other areas than ever having a baby. I don’t know because I’m not at the end of my journey yet… so I’m going to keep trying, because persistence is key to success.
Being like Pollyanna isn’t about being happy all the time – it’s about choosing to focus on the things we can be thankful for. Playing the Glad Game. We, in the infertility community, who know about loss… we are used to playing the game.
But we can’t all be Pollyanna all of the time. And that’s okay.
My friend (used to be a real life friend – now fb friend since she cancelled dinner on me the day she found out she was pregnant… I haven’t seen her physically ever again and she’s now on baby #2) just posted on fb advocating a reduced hours working week. The video was all about not being able to get back family time and see kids grow up and so on and so forth. It said that the average worker works 47 hours a week and it was advocating a 30 hour week… whilst playing pictures of kids and babies and men talking about how they wanted to spend more time with their families.
It kinda made me see red.
Maybe it’s the context: She’s one of those people who “accidentally on purpose” got pregnant to trap the boyfriend. (It was a success.) I used to go out on the town with her and she was intelligent, thoughtful, fun and we’d have interesting conversations IRL about corporate life and 30-something social stuff. She now has only one topic of fb posts: babies. I recently had a miscarriage after 15 years of “unexplained” infertility. On my last project whilst going through the emotional and physical drain of IVF (only to lose the pregnancy at 9 weeks), I was working 80-90 hour weeks with the majority away from home. She has spent 2 of the last 2.5 years whiling away her time on maternity leave posting daily pictures of her kids.
I’m feeling kinda sensitive.
My point is: Why do parents feel like they have some sort of monopoly on having a work life balance?
I’m sorry, but I’m a human and therefore if you think that normal people deserve a work life balance, that should extend to all people and not just parents. Don’t keep giving me this rhetoric about how you want to spend more time with your children… Maybe I want to spend more time with my dog/partner/family. Maybe I have hobbies and interests outside of work that I don’t get to do because of work.
Your free time is not more precious than mine.
Let me start off by saying I’m still worried. Maybe this is just me and my low expectations but I guess I’ll carry on worrying until / if we get to 12 weeks. And then I’ll probably worry some more. It’s not bad news but it’s not good news… It’s just news. Well, he’s still hanging on.
Anyway, as you can see… We had an ultrasound and here he is.
Introducing: Pizza Baby.
(This is a bad phone picture of a print out.) Right now Pizza Baby is 5.3 mm. This means he’s very on the small side. According to my pregnancy app, I’m one day off Week 7 and at week 7 he should be 1.3cm. At Week 6 he should be 6mm. And he’s still smaller than Week 6. They said it was fine and as expected but…
I think I have anxiety because from the outset the nurse was like “This is very early for a scan” and then she was digging around with the wand and then had to get the doctor to come in and everything and then they said “It’s not very clear” and so on. They just sort of seemed to be being a bit… delaying things, or fobbing us off. She kept saying it wasn’t clear enough although the doctor said he could see the heart beat.
To my mind he just looked like a round black blob. And there was a flicker of white on one side. Obviously it was massively magnified as the little guy is like Week 6 size or a bit smaller, so he’s half a centimeter which isn’t very large at all. So the little flicker is probably like less than a millimeter.
In the end they said in order to put my mind at ease (as if!) they would do another scan this time next week. So that’s another week’s wait. I mean it’s obviously more like 5 weeks wait (for a 12 week scan) unless something goes obviously wrong before then. But I just felt like they weren’t telling us something.
T says I have to stop worrying as it’s bad for the baby and he seems to feel absolutely fine about it. I mean, he keeps referring to “the baby” and saying I’m pregnant and need to take it easy and stop worrying. Oh and stop being anxious because it’s bad for the baby. (This is right up there with Just relax and you’ll get pregnant in my book. Easier said than done.)
We saw the nurse afterwards and she was quite matter of fact (not my favourite lovely nurse who is the most reassuring nurse in the world) and she said that everything is fine. And I asked why we were having another scan and she said lots of hospitals would discharge us now to the doctor (as in go back to the normal GP and not be a special case) but they felt that the scan wasn’t very clear and wanted to give us “the benefit of an extra scan”. And also that it was booked in early. (I don’t think it was booked in early – I mean, it was booked in by the fertility nurse and is apparently a normal time to have an early scan.)
So I sort of feel in limbo. I still don’t feel elated or anything. I felt nervous and almost like I was going to cry before the scan. I now feel like… What if he isn’t growing? He’s already on the small side. Why are they giving me an extra scan? Is there something wrong? etc etc.
I bet this sounds really stupid and ungrateful and I’m truly grateful that I’ve managed to come this far. I really am. It just feels more worrying somehow. And I find myself feeling really resentful of normal women who just get p!ssed and instantly get up the duff (pretty much all my friends) and don’t worry at all about pregnancy, announce it really early, sail through it, don’t worry about symptoms and miscarriage and everything. I don’t think they even do anything for the first 3 months. I could be wrong, but I think they just relax and wait for the first trimester to be over.
And the other thing is, in the UK we don’t have all the tests you guys in US/Canada seem to have. We don’t have bloods taken or anything. I just have Crinone (progesterone gel) which I’m supposed to take until week 10-12 and folic acid and the odd ultrasound. If we hadn’t scheduled an extra one for next week then I think I wouldn’t have anything until an ultrasound at 12 weeks, and normal people just have that one and nothing before. Go figure! I’m not sure if this level of testing puts my mind at ease or whether I’d feel better having tests more often. I think I would probably feel better if I had the blood tests, betas and whatnot as at least I would see some sort of progress. I guess if we go back next week and he’s still 5.3mm (or worse, disappeared) then we would know.
Oh and now it’s time for a mini vent…
I have this one friend who I feel like it’s really difficult to remain friends with. She is just the smuggest person in the whole entire world. She was always a real party girl and drank loads and it’s like everything she wanted just fell in her lap. She wanted to get into a relationship – done. Wanted to get married – he proposed (after being told to). She was even really quite old to be thinking of getting married and starting a family (40+) and yet decided she’d stay on birth control until after the wedding because she didn’t want to get pregnant before getting married. You’d think the odds were low for conceiving in your forties with a really unhealthy lifestyle – heavy drinking and overweight – but no, when does she conceive but on her honeymoon. Whilst drinking.
To add insult to injury I’ve had a really tough time at work and whilst she was pregnant, T lost his job so we were completely stressed and strapped for cash. During her pregnancy she decided she didn’t want to work any more so gave up work. Sold a house, bought a house. Spends her days doing nothing but counting up money and being smug. (Do I sound bitter? I am bitter.) Also I might add that she always expects a lot from people financially – like she picks out her own expensive birthday presents from Tiffany & Co and expects everyone to donate, and even booked her own hen do in a really inconvenient out of the way expensive place and demanded we all paid her the money. Probably at a profit to her. I wouldn’t put it past her. It’s not like she is generous either – she is the stingiest present giver in the world. One year I got her MAC makeup. Her most recent present to me was a second hand book and the previous one was some stickers to put on your nails. (I am not 16 and the likelihood of me wearing nail art in my corporate office is nil.)
She’s now had the baby and we are expected every time she’s in town to make some sort of pilgrimage to go and see the baby. (Just to be uncharitable for a minute, it is a very weird looking baby. Miaow. Then again, ugly babies make cute adults in my experience so it’s probably going to be a looker.) I mean… Every. Time. And she actually messages me each time to try and harangue me into going to see her (and THE BABY), even though it’s usually at some out of the way location which would take over an hour to get to, and she books The Visitation at 6pm or something (when anyone with a job in the city is still at work). And even though I told her I was working 18 hour days. Another time she was demanding everyone made a trip out of town (I don’t have a car) which would have been a 5-6 hour round trip on a Sunday. I said no thanks.
So yesterday there was another invitation from this friend, and another smuggy smug ultrasound on Facebook (different people) and I just felt like screaming.
Why can’t I just enjoy this pregnancy?
Why does everyone else get to be all happy and pregnant and I just feel anxious?
Answers on a postcard…
So I know there have been other posts about this, but can I just reiterate:
It is rude to ask people about their marital/parental status!
Yet again today I have been faced with a barrage of questions around why I don’t have kids. The final straw was when my ex (long ago ex, from uni) messaged me on Facebook specifically to ask me why I wasn’t married with several children by now.
Even when I responded and said “That is a personal question!” and “It isn’t something you should ask people”… He still kept asking!
In the end I stopped replying.
Seriously though… Why do people think it’s okay to quiz people about their personal lives like this? Why is it okay to have this gross invasion of privacy on a daily basis, purely because of the fact that you’re a woman? (My ex and my current partner rarely get asked about anything like this.)
Q: Why don’t I have kids?
A: Because I haven’t had any. THE END
In the context of my little rant, I thought it worth producing a handy flow diagram showing when to ask someone about why they don’t have children.
This is more of a rant/vent than part of the IVF experience as such, but I just wanted to say:
I’m so angry (or maybe more upset, frustrated) at the world today. There’s a number of reasons but really I think it’s just a perfect storm.
It’s day 4 – the day before embryo transfer. I have to go and get the embryos implanted tomorrow. This should be a really nice time… A relaxing and hopeful and happy shared experience with T.
But instead I’m working 18hr days on the project from hell. I don’t actually get much shared experience with T. I’m staying in a hotel and sleeping 4 hours a night in a city 3 hours away. I’m on my way back now just so I can do the transfer tomorrow morning. This evening I have to work until about midnight – 1am and I won’t get a good night’s sleep as I have to get up and work before going to hospital for the transfer.
I’m feeling tired, emotional, I have horrible symptoms (the ones which are bothering me the most are the massive swollen stomach, horrible sore swollen boobs and spots), my team working for me are really stressed and on the verge of tears by constantly changing project demands and I don’t have any time to spend with T. If I’m at home like I will be tonight, I’ll be working until I go to bed.
This is not how it should be.
I’ve also been reading some stuff on adoption which I came across from starting this blog. I think it has kind of opened up some unprocessed feelings for me and I just feel angry. Particularly about ignorant people making horrible comments about adoption and adults who were adopted having their opinions invalidated. That infuriates me.
And maybe also the whole concept of possible biological relatives (through IVF) makes me think about all those things too. It makes me feel really angry almost(?) that I have to go through all of this bio/racial identity stuff. I don’t know anyone in the world I’m biologically related to. In that sense I am categorically as related to my dog (who’s “adopted”) as much as I am to any human, as much as I am to my partner and my family. There is literally no categorical difference – I am not biologically related to any of them.
Maybe it’s the hormones having a bad effect. Maybe it’s the pressure of a crazy long hours high stress lots of travel job. Maybe it’s the stress of going through infertility and IVF.
All I know is: Day 4 is meant to be the “relax” day and I feel anything but relaxed.