Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'm dreaming of a red Christmas

There's no other way to say it, the red menace is on its way. I'm in bits with period pain, which isn't good on Christmas Eve when I am running around like a blue arsed fly icing Christmas cakes, doing last minute shopping (mainly booze to drown the sorrows), washing floors and making trifle.

To all the lovely bloggy friends I made this year, thank you all for your support in the past few months. Have a very happy Christmas, and may all your wishes come true in the coming year.

I've a bottle of Veuve Cliquot in the fridge with my name on it. Not for any reason of celebration, but just because I can drink on Christmas day. Slainte!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ahhhh! I'm meltingggg!

Well my head is anyway. Being a hardened pee stick addict, I decided at the weekend that I couldn't bare the suspense until Wednesday, so I conducted a wee experiment (literally).

Because I have had four hcg injections over the nine days following ovulation, I still have a certain level of synthetic pregnancy hormone in my system, which means that if I take a pregnancy test before 17 dpo, I will get a false positive result. So I figured the only way to test early is to test two days in a row and see if the line is getting weaker or stronger. So I did a test on Saturday and then another on Sunday, and the line was weaker on the Sunday. So far so shit.

It probably wasn't the wisest of days in the week to do this to myself, as we had decided to drive to a large shopping centre outside Dublin on Sunday to do the last of our Christmas shopping. So we parked up and made our way to the shops, passing a line of twenty or so little kids queueing to visit Santa. I remember passing a similar line of kids in the same centre this time last year and hoping that I would at least have a bump on me at this stage if not pushing a buggy. It just served to remind me that we are still stuck in the middle of all this shite, albeit with a small chink of light at the end of the tunnel, in that at least we are allowed to try to conceive again, for the first time in months.

Anyway the shops were absolutely thronged to the point of clausterphobia, and after a couple of hours I began to feel that old familiar crampy feeling in my belly. I found a bench outside the bookshop that John was in and as soon as I sat down I could feel the tears coming. I just felt so angry at myself for getting my hopes up and thinking we just might hit target the first month. For thinking we might have a reason to celebrate this Christmas, instead of the usual put-on-a-smile-and-get-on-with-it Christmases we have endured for the past two years.

I didn't bother testing again this morning, the thought of no line there at all was just too depressing to contemplate. But then as I got dressed I noticed my boobs feeling really sore and swollen, which is usually a pregnancy symptom rather than a PMT symptom for me. I'm still feeling tired too. So which is it? Is the witch on her way or not?

This is all such a head fuck.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa Claus is coming to town...

Just to prove that I am doing more than sitting around obsessing about the 17 day wait, here's a couple of shots of our living room, decorated to a standard that I hope will entice the fat man in the red suit to pay us a visit a day early with a great big present.

The cats as always at Christmas think we are the best humans ever, since we installed a great big fuck off cat toy for them to pull apart and destroy every day. They love punching the baubles until they get them on the ground, then they chase them around the living room. They also prey on my poor little rag doll reindeers, santas and angels. I regularly find them face down on the floor, murder victim style, all that's missing is the chalk mark surround and it would be CSI Tipperary. Then we drop hugely in their opinion in early January, when we take away their gigantic toy. Strange creatures, these humans.

I've gone really festive with the fireplace this year too. There's a whole raft of snow people, santas, reindeers and Santa bears hanging out waiting for a visit from the man himself. I even have a washing line of Santa's laundry, even though judging by the size of his mittens compared to his jackets and trousers, he's disturbingly out of proportion. So far the cats haven't taken a swipe at that, but I wouldn't rule it out yet.

So it's five days to Christmas Eve. I'm still feeling totally and utterly ran-over-by-a-steamroller knackered, even though I was in bed asleep at 10.30pm last night. And either my sense of smell is going into overdrive or some farmer collecting his pension in the post office this morning brought a serious amount of cowshite in with him on his wellies, because the smell nearly knocked me over. I've also had the passing twinge in my bosom region, but not the usual increase in cup size. So who knows. Having said all that, I had all those symptoms in a far more noticable way last time I was pregnant, and it was all over ten days after getting my BFP, so early strong symptoms are no gaurantee of a lasting pregnancy, if there is one there at all to begin with.

Ok *slaps self around the chops in an effort to cop oneself on* stop bloody obsessing Jane!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ten down, seven to go

Days that is, on my super extended two week wait. I got this month's blood test results back this morning, and it looks like we've got the formula right at last as results were.....

*** X factoresque drumroll***

Oestradiol 655
Progesterone 125.5

***Jane's ovaries burst into tears in a display of emotion to rival Alexandra***

I'm very happy to report that I am feeling like total shit. I was at my Christmas party at the weekend, had approx 4 drinks, was in bed at 3.30am and I'm still feeling like I need to catch up on my sleep after it, despite being in bed crashed out at 10pm the following night, and falling asleep on the couch at 9pm last night. But then I'm like a cat when it comes to sleep. I'd nearly sleep standing up. But still, I'm feeling knackered....hmmmm.....

In other news, my 14 year old niece is writing to the Pope to nominate me for canonisation, since I booked tickets to the Beyoncé gig for me and her. It happens to fall two days before my 40th birthday, but I'm sure that won't interfere with the party plans. I texted her to tell her, and got back one of those OMG OMG OMG texts in response. Ah bless. I might be pregnant by then, but I'm sure I will still manage to be Bootylicious as always (I certainly have an ample enough booty to shake anyway).

So anyway, I'm totally obsessing about the 2ww here. If anyone has any suggestions for fun ways of passing the time until Christmas Eve without ending up in one of those nice jackets you can hug yourself all day long in, please share.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pimp mah symptoms

So I ovulated on Sunday, and despite me being plagued with a dose of man flu, we managed some rather enjoyable baby making attempts. As I said in the comments in my last post, it turns out that the digital opks I picked up in the company shop are actually being given away for free. I have no idea why they are doing this, it's hardly profitable for them to encourage the female half of their workforce to get knocked up, but I'm not complaining. The kits they are giving away cost approximately €40 to buy in the pharmacy, so happy days.

I'm now officially on the two week wait, for the first time in months. The last time I was on the 2ww was last June, and I wasn't particularly hopeful, as I think we got the go ahead to ttc after I had actually ovulated, which wasn't much good. The time before that was October 07, which was our first time to try again after a miscarriage at 9.5 weeks. That was the most freakish two week wait I have ever had. Within 3 days of ovulation (yes 3 DAYS!) I suddenly had melons for boobs (ok, I'll admit I'm not lacking in the chest department as it is), a sense of smell to rival any blood hound, and an overall bleurgh exhausted/flu like feeling. It turned out that I was in fact pregnant, but it was a very short lived one.

A poster on a ttc board I frequent started a thread some months back entitled "Pimp my symptoms" for two week waiters who wanted to be totally irrational regarding every little twinge and sniffle. Stuff like "I have terrible wind, is this a symptom?", "My pet cat is ignoring me, could this be a sign?". You get the drift. It's nothing to do with that vindaloo you ate last night, or that cats are snotty little fuckers at the best of times (except of course for my little fur babies, who are four legged love sluts). So this morning when I woke up and felt a slight sore twinge in my right chesticle, the pimping began in earnest. I've been feeling a bit knackered for the past couple of days, but that could be post man flu fatigue. Or, it could be a.....SYMPTOM!
I've been peeing like a race horse in the past couple of days, but ordinarily I think I must have the tiniest bladder in Ireland, so that's nothing new. So far I haven't experienced any bionic nasal passage tendancies, which is usually a dead giveaway. The last time I was pregnant, I could smell bacon frying in the staff canteen as I walked past the car park, which is a freakish distance for a cooking smell to carry. I will keep you informed if this starts happening again.

Because of the fertility drugs I am on, my luteal phase is almost always bang on 16 days. I am on hcg injections on peak (i.e. ovulation day) +3, +5, +7 and +9. Because it takes some time for the hcg to work its way out of my system, I am not allowed to take a pregnancy test until peak +17. So looking at the calendar and counting 17 days from December 7th, it looks like the either the wicked witch or Santa with a very big Christmas gift is due to show up on Christmas Eve. So it could be the Best Christmas Ever Ever, or it could be the Biggest Bummer Ever Ever.

I've never been much of a Mariah Carey fan, but this morning I found myself glancing down at my belly in the shower singing the following:

"I just want you for my own,
more than you will ever know,
make my wish come true,
cos all I want for Christmas is youuuuuuuuu, babeeeeeeee"

Let's hope I don't scare the little bugger off.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I really am a share holder... Clearblue. In my more active baby making stick peeing days, I used to joke to John that I should have shares in Clearblue, I'd spent that much money on their products. Well I found out yesterday that I actually have shares in the company that manufactures them. As I mentioned in a previous post, I work for a multinational which makes all manner of consumer goods, one of them being Clearblue pee sticks. And I happen to be a member of the share ownership scheme at work. So there you go. Keep peeing ladies, I want a good dividend this year.

The way I found out was that when I visited the site shop yesterday to stock up on skincare products for myself, shaving products for John, and nappies for our as yet unconceived children, there on the shelves were Clearblue Ovulation kits, the digital ones. So I grabbed a box, thinking they have to be cheaper than the pharmacy, even though I have a stash of cheapie internet ones at home. But hey, when you're an addict, you can never have enough peesticks in stock. Anyway got to the counter, trying to avoid other people looking at my purchases. The guy behind the counter said "sorry, you can't buy these (the peesticks) until next week, they're not input in the system yet". I went "well.....erm....I kinda need them this week". Without making eye contact he went "Oh. Right so. You can pay for them next week then. Is that all?". Me: "Em no, you haven't scanned this (inordinately large) pack of nappies, God loves a trier eh?". I don't know who was cringing more, me or him.

Anyway I reckon the shagfest begins this weekend, even though I am smothered with a cold. I think I'll go home, get on the hot lemon drinks and try to shake it off. Nothing worse than coughing and spluttering when you're trying to get it on.

Monday, December 1, 2008

And the clanger of the year award 2008 goes to....

my brother in law's big mouthed twat of a friend. As I mentioned last week, we were attending John's nieces christening last Saturday. Not only that, but I was at the end of this month's clomid dose, and the hormones were all over the place, to say the least. The new parents are John's youngest brother (seven years younger than John) and his wife (four years younger than me). All in all, it was a pretty tough gig to attend, given what we have been going through for the past two years. I was pretty much prepared for somebody to put their foot in it as regards our sprogless state, but I thought it would be in a small group setting, possibly at the party when there were a few drinks down.

But no, it happened much earlier in the day than anticipated. After the baby dunking, renouncing the devil and praying was over, it was time for the photos. When it came to the Godparents shot, John was handed the baby to hold. In front of everyone in the church, a voice shouted up from the pew behind me "You'll be next John, ha, ha!". I tried my best to let that go over my hormonal head, when he followed it up with "Are you getting broody yet John?". At this point I turned around and hit him with a death ray. Bitchy I know, but at least it shut him up. At that point I just wanted to run for the door. We went back to brother in law's house, and I just went upstairs and cried my eyes out.

The tactless twat later apologised to John, saying he only meant it as a joke. Well forgive me, but my sense of humour has been stretched just a tad past its elastic limit. I know he had no clue what we've been going through, but given that we are married longer than the other couple, and a few years older than them, it shouldn't take a genius to figure out that we might be having issues in the fertility department. I just wish that I had turned around to him and asked him how was his sex life since he was so concerned with ours.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waiting to hatch

Well the Red Menace has almost left the building, and I'm already gearing up to hatch the golden egg. I have to admit, my clean living halo slipped a little (well ok, a lot) over the weekend. I noticed the other day that a restaurant in town was now allowing punters to BYO and not charging corkage. I rang up one of my friends and suggested getting a few people together for dinner. She said why not, let's put the session back in recession. So four of us headed out, bottle of wine each in hand. We left the restaurant, bottle of wine each down the hatch. We then progressed to the pub, and from there John and I went home, grabbed whatever booze we could lay our hands on, and popped in next door to see our neighbours. Luckily they are as big a pair of pissheads as we normally are, so they were their usual hospitable selves. The next day was a total write off. I didn't get out of the scratcher until around 5pm. As sick as a plane to Lourdes, I was.

Anyway, all that hedonism is behind me now, and I'm back on healthy form again. I went back to Catherine, my wonder woman acupuncturist yesterday evening for another session. For the first time ever, I bled when she took the needles out. Don't know what that means, but I suppose my circulation must be healthy enough. I also went back to the gym last night, before I fell off the wagon entirely. I started on the Evil Pills on Sunday night. I'm feeling a teeny bit weepy on them today, so I think it's off to the gym for me again tonight to get those endorphins flowing. I received my order from the medical test centre on Monday too. Preseed and peesticks galore. I had to tell John that preseed is not something you get from the garden centre to spread on your spring bulbs. It's more to do with lady gardens. Enough said.

This Saturday we are heading down south for John's niece's christening. I'm looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time. I'm delighted for the new parents, you couldn't meet nicer people, but I'm dreading somebody not in the know of our situation giving it the "when is she getting a little cousin, nudge nudge, wink wink". I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another remembrance

This day two years ago, Tuesday November 21st, 2006, I underwent a D&C after I had been told that my first pregnancy had ended in a missed miscarriage. It was one of the saddest days of my life.

We had been trying to conceive for six months when we got lucky. It was the first month that we got in any way scientific about the whole business; I invested in a digital thermometer and a charting book from Boots, as well as a pack of OPKs. My ovulation date co-incided with a long weekend at the wedding of friends in the Ardeche region of France. The setting was beautiful, the weather was spectacular, the wedding itself was amazing, and we were in honeymoon mode. We were at it "comme les lapins" all weekend.

Two weeks later, much to our delight, we found out that we had brought an extra little passenger back from France. In our minds it was a boy, no rational explanation for why we thought that, just pure gut feeling for both of us. Being the ever pc people that we are, we nicknamed him Kermit the Frog, since he was made in France. A week later, I started to get light brown spotting. It was the start of a bank holiday weekend. We didn't panic at first, but my GP told me to call him in a couple of days if it got any worse. Over the weekend it got heavier, so the following Tuesday I phoned the GP back and he told me to go straight to our local maternity hospital. A friend of mine from work drove me to Limerick and John met me in there.

At that stage it was too early to see a heartbeat on an ultrasound, but we did see the gestational sac, so there was no doubt that there was a pregnancy there. I was sent away and told to come back the following week for another scan. The following Tuesday I was scanned again, and this time we could see a heartbeat on an internal scan. The first time you see your own baby's heart beating is an amazing one. The sheer awe you experience looking at that tiny little pulse on the screen. Unfortunately it wasn't all good news that day, we were told the gestational sac was a very irregular shape, and this was an indication that the pregnancy might not be viable, although the sonographer said that she had seen this before and it was not always bad news. We were given another appointment for a week's time and sent on our way.

At this point I started googling "gestational sac" and "irregular shape" at every opportunity. Not a good idea really when you are trying to put your mind at rest. One friend of mine told me that she had been told the same thing at an early scan on her first pregnancy, and she went on to deliver a perfectly healthy baby girl. That gave me some reassurance. The following Tuesday we went back to Limerick for another scan, and we were given the bad news that our baby had died. The gestational sac was measuring six weeks three days, when it should have been a week more than that. We were absolutely devastated. I suppose in hindsight we were naive as regards the statistics of miscarriage, one in four pregancies. At that stage I had nine nieces and nine nephews, and only one of my siblings out of six had ever experienced a loss in pregnancy. My mother had one loss out of eight pregnancies. I never thought it was something that would touch us. How wrong could I have been?

A week later, I was admitted to hospital for a D&C. Physically and emotionally it was an extremely tough day. It was a cold day in November, and the hospital was undergoing renovations. I was admitted to a day ward around 10am, fasting from 6pm the evening before (big mistake, I should have eaten much later in the night, nearer to midnight) and the noise level in the ward was horrendous. It was like someone was operating a jackhammer just under my bed. A few people had told me in advance of the D&C that it is a painless procedure. John's sister, who had had it done a number of times to remove fibroids described it as quite uncomfortable. This was the only warning I had in advance.

Uncomfortable was the understatement of the year. After about an hour I was put on a saline drip to stop me getting dehydrated. At around noon, my gynaecologist came in and introduced herself, and without further ado shoved a couple of pessaries up into my cervix (pleased to meet you, Doctor, OWWWW!). The midwives told me that there would be pain relief available should I need it. I was doing the whole brave patient routine, thinking there are women in here in the throes of labour, I'm not going to start shouting for pain relief over a few little cramps. I sent John down town to get some lunch and I settled in for the afternoon. All of a sudden what had been like minor period pain was like the most excrutiating period pain, multiplied by around 20. I rang John on his mobile in agony to tell him get straight back here. I was getting progressively weaker from the lack of food. The room seemed to be getting colder, and the jackhammer was still hammering away at top volume.

I rang the bell and asked the midwife for pain relief. She took my blood pressure and told me that it was dropping, and we would be getting a slot for theatre soon. At this stage it must have been around 4pm. I was writhing around the bed in pain at this stage and begged for something, anything, so she gave me pethadeine. This made me really woozy and out of it, and not in a good way. It didn't really do much for the pain either, probably because I had asked for it too late. If I had asked before the pain increased to unbearable levels, it would probably have stopped it before it got really intense. The midwife and porter came to wheel me up to theatre just after that, and the combination of the motion of the moving bed and the pethadeine really started to give me the room spins. I met the gynaecologist outside the theatre again, and I was almost passing out at this stage. It took two people to lift me onto the operation table. I was so out of it I literally could not move a muscle.

I woke up probably around twenty minutes later, still in pain. It was then that it really hit me, my baby was gone. I was given two rounds of painkillers in suppository form. I was wheeled back down to the ward and left to rest for a while. At one stage I went to go to the bathroom and when I stood up I literally saw stars. I was discharged later that evening, so glad to get back home to the comfort of our own bed. After a couple of days I was feeling much better physically, but it took much longer for the emotional pain to ease. In some ways I think it has never fully gone away and it never will.

A few months later I found a post on a parenting website about the Shrine of the Holy Innocents in New York. It is based in a Church in Manhattan, and is dedicated to all children who have died before birth. Parents of babies lost through miscarriage or stillbirth can name them and have recorded in a book of remembrance kept in the shrine. Although I was brought up by religious parents, I am not strongly religious myself, but the idea of this brought me some comfort. We named our lost little one Kieran, because as I said before, we always thought I was carrying a boy. I have been thinking about him a lot in the past month or so, wondering what he would have looked like, imagining all the mischief he would be getting into now if he was still with us. No doubt he would be chasing the poor cats around the house, terrorising them. I like to think him and his sister and our other lost little ones are waiting for us, somewhere in the next life.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The green light at last

At long last after twelve long months of knicker watching and ewcm charting, eight months of home injecting, four months of clomid popping and all the associated angst, we have been given the green light to go. All I'm waiting for now is the Goddam witch to arrive so that can get this party started.

I've got my prescription for five days of clomid @ 150mg per day at the ready. I went online today and ordered a ten pack of opks, a ten pack of hpts and a six pack of pre seed. Maybe I should pop down to the offie for a six pack of beer as well just to get us in the mood. Did I ever think when we started off on this baby making journey way back in the spring of 2006 that it would involve such a plethora of pharmaceutical goods? Erm, no, actually. I thought all we would need would be a glass or two of wine (enough to get in the mood without getting comatose), a nice bit of nookie and Bob's your uncle, or rather Jane's your Mammy and John's your Daddy. I never thought it would get to the stage that I'd end up on first name terms with my local pharmacist, a fertility specialist, my gynaecologist's receptionist; or that I would end up having repeated rendez vous with a dildo cam. But such is life.

So as of this month, we have graduated into a class of real ttc'ers. I'm already looking to the calender and trying to figure out will John's work's Christmas do coincide with my ovulation date, and if so, will he co-operate and stay off the beer for the night, or will I have to take advantage of him in his drunken state? If this cycle goes like the last one, my next visit from the red menace will be due around December 23rd. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, because I know if I build myself up too much the let down will be great, especially on Christmas week. But isn't it the time of year for magic and wishes coming true? So Santa, if you're reading, I've been a very good girl all year, and I promise to go to bed early every night between now and Christmas, so can you please bring us a BFP?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good news at last

Woooo hoooooo!! I had my blood test this morning and results were excellent.

Oestradiol 686 (needs to be 400-800, has never been more than 380 before)
Progeterone 81 (needs to be 60-100)

So it looks like we have the go ahead.

Think I will go and ride the living daylights out of my husband to celebrate.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lest we forget...

Yesterday John and I travelled to Dublin for the day to attend the Miscarriage Association of Ireland's annual remembrance service. This is something I have been wanting to do for some time, but didn't get to it last year, probably because we were still reeling from a fourth loss in the space of a year. I was looking out for remembrance services closer to where we live, but there don't seem to be any. The other day I was on an Irish parenting website and a poster mentioned that it was on this weekend, so very much at the last minute we decided to go. We were both so glad that we did.

When you lose a baby early in pregnancy, there is plenty of grief associated with that loss, but very little ritual with which to vent that grief. There's no funeral, no grave. For a lot of people there is very little public acknowledgement of the fact that they have lost a child, which only serves to compound the grief and pain. Some people plant trees in memory of their lost little ones, which is something we did, but it was very much a private thing between John and I. This service was really beautiful in that it gave parents (and we are parents, in a different respect to most people) an opportunity to come together in an interdenominational service, to offer prayers, listen to readings and music and to just openly grieve their losses in a way that is just not possible in everyday life.

The most poignant part of the whole ceremony was the procession of light. We were all invited to light a candle for each of our lost babies and carry them to the steps in front of the altar. We carried up four candles between us. It was kind of surreal getting a light from another couple at the back of the church, knowing what or whom these little lights signified. They looked a good ten years younger than us, and they were lighting two candles themselves. In the end of the procession, the steps were covered with candles, each one representing somebody's lost baby.

The church was absolutely packed with people of all ages. I noticed an elderly man sitting alone who I would guess was around eighty years of age with three candles lined up on the back of the pew in front of him. In the row in front of us were three ladies who looked in their sixties or seventies. I would guess they had been coming there for years. There were also many families with young children, which represented a beacon of hope, and also middle aged couples with teenage or twenty something offspring in tow. Here and there were childless couples like John and me, huddled together for comfort. One of the bidding prayers was for parents who have no other children. We both cried buckets throughout, to the point that I had a headache from crying by the end of the ceremony, but our tears were cathartic ones.

At the end of the service each family was presented with a silver Christmas tree ornament of a dove. The theme of the ceremony was the dove as a symbol of hope and peace. We then got to sign the book of remembrance and enter the names and memories of our lost little ones. All in all it was a beautiful ceremony and we will definately go to it again in years to come. I would really recommend a similar service to anyone who has experienced the loss of a baby.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Filling in time

As many of the blogging brethren have commented on their own blogs this month, it's hard to think what to blog about when you're not actively ttc in a particular cycle. Unfortunately that's my lot on an ongoing basis, until the powers that be up in Galway deem my hormones to be of an acceptable level with which to have a go at baby making. It's now a year since I last was pregnant, so it seems as though a lot of time and procreational opportunities have slipped past since then. Like my fellow ttc'ers I am still on a waiting game, but mine is a month long wait from one blood test to the next instead of a two week wait.

Anyway I'm blathering on here because I have little to report really. I'm still going to the gym, and so far I have lost 3 lbs (yay me!), but seem to be up a lb this morning compared to last Friday (boo me!). I haven't been drinking, have had a little bit of junk food this week, but not a huge amount, so I don't know what's going on. Mind you, this is my usual pattern when I try to lose weight, and I usually give up at this point. But I am determined this time. The muffin top is almost gone, and I have toned up a bit around my middle and my jelly belly, so that's progress. I'm trying to get to the gym three times a week, and not be intimidated by all the baldy, grunting, sweaty steroid heads who frequent the place. So far I have managed to avoid passively inhaling the fug of testosterone, so I haven't morphed into an Eastern European shot putter (yet).

I managed to get through this month's clomid cycle without too much weeping and wailing. I was a bit down in the dumps last weekend, but I think that could be due to the start of official winter time, and the dark evenings. I'm hoping the endorphins will keep the blues at bay.

John's niece is being christened at the end of the month, and I estimate from my ovulation date this week that I am going to be on cycle day 2 on the big day. This is usually marked by crippling period pains and full force of the crimson tide. Crimson tsunami even. I've told him that if I'm not up to it I might bow out. The other thing about it I'm dreading is that there will be friends of my brother in law's who are also friends of John's there. Some of them we haven't seen since brother in law's wedding, and they also came to our wedding. I'm pretty sure they haven't got a clue what's been going on with us for the past two years, so there's plenty potential for foot in mouth remarks as regards to our baby making plans, particularly when John is the godfather to this little one. So I'm kind of dreading the whole thing, even though it will be a nice family gathering. I just know that one misplaced remark would be enough to send me running for the bathroom.

Another event that has potential for awkwardness is coming up next week. There's a reunion on in Dublin for the bank I used to work at. When I was in my last job two or three years, the bank was bought out, and a lot of long term employees took voluntary redundancy. They still keep in touch with everyone who has left and every two years or so they have a reunion. I missed the last one as it was when I had my first miscarriage. I am going to go, because it's an opportunity to catch up with friends I haven't seen in a few years, but I'm just dreading somebody asking me how long are we married now, and any sign of the patter of little feet? Maybe most people will know not to ask, given that we've been married over three years now and I am 39 years old, which means we have either no interest in having kids, or we are trying and there's nothing happening. There's always the potential for somebody to drop a clanger though.

I'm due to have my next blood test on Tuesday. I've tried everything this month - dairy free diet, no alcohol, exercise, accupuncture. If that doesn't work I don't know what will. Tune in next week for results.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Feeling virtuous....

I had a very healthy weekend. I decided this month to not drink any alcohol whatsoever while I'm on Clomid and see if that helps its effectiveness. It was a bank holiday weekend here in Ireland and I'm pleased to say not one drop of the demon drink did pass my lips.

I also got out for a 3 mile walk on Sunday morning. One good thing about the town we live in is that there are plenty of walking paths. One of the more popular ones passes near to our house, so every so often I take a walk there. Part of the walk is lined with some really beautiful trees, mainly horse chestnut, so it's particularly pretty this time of the year.

I also started my Christmas shopping yesterday. I don't normally start this early, but I was in a shopping centre and saw something I thought one of my in laws might like, so I bought it. I also got the ingredients for my annual attempt at baking. I appointed myself as Christmas cake supplier to my parents in law a few years back, and now that I've established this tradition I feel like there's no backing out on the job. John's sister used always make a Christmas cake for their mother, and since she passed away I have taken up the baton. I love the smell of baking around the house, but I wouldn't bake a Christmas cake just for John and I as we would eat the whole thing ourselves in the space of a few days. So I make a cake for my in laws, and I usually end up bringing a quarter of it home to our house. I just have to get myself into the mood for baking.

I finished the clomid last night, and am happy to report that I haven't morphed into a wailing banshee so far. Note the so far, this may be subject to change. I did have one or two tetchy moments on Sunday when we were wrestling with the grating blade on my food processor, but apart from that I've been ok I think. Felt a bit "yuck, I don't want to go to work today" this morning, but I'd say that's a natural reaction to Tuesday morning after a bank holiday.

I'm starting accupuncture this evening, and after that I'm off to the gym to start my new fitness programme. I had a fitness assessment on Friday evening (yes, I went to the gym on a Friday, wonders will never cease!) and I actually registered better results in lung capacity, resting heart rate and flexibility than I did the previous time I had one done last February. Mind you my weight was exactly the same as last time, but at least I haven't gained anything. So all in all I felt pretty happy with that. I'll report back on the accupuncture tomorrow.

I'm still gasping for a nice chilled glass of sauvignon blanc though.....

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm bringin' sexah back

There must be something in the air in the IF blogosphere in the last few days, since some of us have taken to exercise all of a sudden. May is extolling the benefits of walking (albeit reluctant extolling, and walking with "a face like a bulldog licking piss of a nettle" (love it!), while Womb for improvement has come over all zen like and gone back to yoga. The health kick buzz has also descended upon Chez Jane & John here in the arse end of Midlands Ireland.

To tell the truth, we've been members of the leisure centre in the one decent hotel in town since we moved here around four and a half years ago. When we joined, we were a year away from our wedding, so our mantra was "We are not going to look like fat skobies (chavs, trailer trash, whatever) in our wedding photos". So four nights a week we were down at the pool, swimming away to beat the band. I was determined to get into a size 12 Audrey Hepburn style little number for our wedding, which I managed to do after much pain and sweat.

I was trying to lose the weight gained while spent backpacking around Australia for 3 months the previous winter. I've started reading "Eat, pray, love" by Elizabeth Gilbert this week. It's about a 34 year old divorcee who embarks on a year of solo travel in 2003 in search of her inner self. Which is a little bit of a coincidence, since in 2003 I became a divorcee, and later that year, at the age of 34, I chucked in my permanent pensionable job at the bank, got out my Jesus sandals and rucksack, and hightailed it off down under for 3 months on my own. If I was to write a book about my adventures and travels, it would be a lot less spiritual, and more likely to be entitled "Eat, eat, drink". I literally lived on beer, nasty deep fried food and ice cream for three months. When I returned to my soon to be fiancé, there was an extra stone and a half of me to love (that's 21 pounds for my readers across the Atlantic). And I wasn't exactly a stick insect to begin with.

Anyway, I digress...Since our wedding both of us have battled with a yo-yo-ing weight issue. We both gained at least seven pounds on our two week honeymoon. That's what you get for going all inclusive. There's this inner voice telling you "F*ck it, we've paid for this, let's get our value for money" which results in you gorging yourself on food and drink. I went on a health kick in the month leading up to John's brother's wedding the following year, but once that was over I fell off the wagon with a resounding thump once more. That Autumn, I became pregnant for the first time, and was barely keeping my eyes open with the tiredness, let alone getting out for a walk. With the result that the pounds started to pile on. Then I miscarried, which kicked off a comfort eating frenzy that continued for at least 3 months. By that stage I had reached my heaviest ever, tipping over 12 stone on the scales, and for the first time ever in my life I was clinically overweight. Eeeeekkk!! This is the girl who used to be known as Twiggy for all of her childhood and teenage years, or just Skinny Bitch to my sister. I used to wear size 8 jeans when I was 16 for God's sake! Now I was reaching for size 16!

From there on a cycle of half hearted health kick, lose 3 lbs, get pregnant, put on more weight, miscarry, comfort eat carried on. I tried during the Summer to get on the wagon once more, but I just couldn't get myself in the frame of mind. My hormones were all over the place with Clomid, injections, disappointing blood tests, resulting downer, blah de blah de blah, that I just couldn't get off my arse and do anything about it. The past few weekends we have been saying "Ok, starting Monday, we are going back to the gym", but we've always found excuses not to. So last weekend I went down town, purchased a pair of shiny white trainers and some tracky bottoms which cover my ample bottom in as flattering a manner as possible, and we bit the bullet and went back. You always feel sheepish walking in there when you haven't been in over six months. Especially when you have been paying €45 a month not to use the facilities. Making donations if you will.

But this time I'm determined.
Because I am sick of having a muffin top in my favourite jeans.
Because I have a wardrobe full of relatively expensive clothes (Coast dresses, bustiers and the like) that don't fit me anymore.
Because I'm sicking of seeing myself in photos with three chins and a face like a full moon in a fog.
Because I'm sick of going shopping and struggling to find clothes that look halfway decent on me.
Because I'm sick of (to paraphrase Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy) the fact that my arse is the size of a small country.
Because this weight makes me look every bit of my 39 years, and I am vain and like to think that I don't look a day over 34.
Because I want to start my next pregnancy (and there will be a next one, God willing) a stone lighter, so that when I gain baby weight I will not end up 16 stone post pregnancy.

So here goes, **gets up on the stepper machine without having a coronary in the process**.....I'm bringin' sexah do do....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pulling out all the stops

This month's blood test results were extremely disappointing, so this month we are bringing in the big guns. My fertility specialist has prescibed 150mg clomid for 5 days. This I am dreading, because by day 5 I am guaranteed to be a weeping gibbering basket case. But hopefully I will be able to time that with the upcoming bank holiday weekend, and if so I am just going to have an extended duvet day. A duvet weekend if you will. I'm not going to issue any invitations to potential visitors and will just chill out and enjoy some books and films at home.

I've also decided to give accupunture a try. I have tried it before for back pain, fatigue and post miscarriage recovery, and found it good for all three, so I'm going to see if it's any good for kicking my hormones up the arse. So tomorrow week I'm going in for my first session. Ironically, my accupuncturist is back from maternity leave after having her fifth child. What's more she's younger than me. She's an incredibly chilled out lady, but I suppose you'd have to be really!

I'm also going to take my non dairy diet seriously for a change. I had food intolerance testing done a few months back on the advice of my fertility clinic. I suffer from IBS and have done for years, so it seemed like a good idea to get checked out. It turned out that I have major intolerance for cow's milk. Since then, I have weaned myself off cow's milk, cut back on cheese, but I have found it very difficult to sever my love affair with Ben & Jerrys. I never realised how much dairy crops up on menus until I tried to give it up. Try ordering a non dairy desert in a restaurant. I have yet to find one that doesn't involve cream, ice cream, soft cheese or some form of milk product. The other day my fertility specialist told me I have to stick to the non dairy diet rigidly, as this can have a hugely adverse effect on hormone levels. I had been using goat's milk and associated products as a substitute, but I have been told that these are a no-no also. So as of this month, I can haz no cheezeburger. Sob! How am I going survive the infertility blues if I can't dive face first into a vat of caramel chew chew? It's going to be a tough month...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Groundhog Day

Just got my blood test results for this month.

Worse than last month.

Progesterone - 35.9 (needs to be 60-100)
Oestradiol - 332 (needs to be 400-800)

I am so shit sick of all this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pregnancy and infant loss awareness day

Tomorrow Wednesday Oct 15th is international pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. Those who have a lost babies either through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death are invited to light a candle in their homes for an hour at 7pm. This will result in a global wave of light around the world for 24 hours, in memory of our lost little ones. It's a lovely idea and we will be lighting a candle in our house.

I'm still waiting on my blood test results for this months. Keeping fingers and toes crossed that we might get the all clear to be allowed to ttc next month. There's only so much waiting we can bear.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I is down wit de kids

I've just come back from Mayo, where John and I went to my second oldest nephew's 18th birthday last night. I was still in Uni when him and his older brother were born, and my mother was their child minder for their pre school years. As a result, I spent a huge amount of time with them when they were little guys, and along with my two beautiful god daughters, they are the siblings' kids with whom I would have the closest bond.

What I love about them these days is that the actually seek out our company socially. They're both talking about coming down here for a weekend on the raz, which I am really looking forward to. The funny thing is that I could see them fitting right in with any of our friends down here, since most of our mates are in their twenties.

When we moved here over four years ago, we found there was a culture of locals versus blow ins. The locals were far too absorbed with their own lives and family circles to have any interest in making new friends. The blow ins however were the most inclusive bunch of people I have ever had the good fortune to meet. They were in the early twenties to early thirties age group, and always willing to make the effort to draw new people into the social fold. This made life so much easier for us, moving to a town where we knew nobody. Before we knew it, we were being dragged to Christmas parties, barbecues, bouncy castle parties, St Patrick's Day brunches, boozy Sunday afternoon lunches, weddings, christenings and leaving dos. As a result, when John turned 40 two years ago, the average age of party punter at his 40th was late twenties.

What really made us laugh yesterday evening was when the birthday boy popped in to say hello shortly after we had arrived at my parents' house. He was explaining to us that the party theme for the night was rave. So it was white clothes, glow sticks and whistles all the way. This was in the local pub in Knock, Co Mayo. Xbox will understand the incongruity of this, it's a bit like throwing an orgy in Lourdes. Then the plan was that he had hired a bus to bring the revellers to the night club in the nearest town club five miles up the road. And he wanted us to come clubbing with them!! Can you honestly imagine a forty two year old engineer and his thirty nine year old accountant wife on a bus with a shower of tequila fuelled glow stick brandishing school kids? No, neither can I, but it's really nice that he couldn't see anything out of place with that picture. To say thanks, I bought himself and his brother a fat frog. Cos I is down wit de kids.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Food for thought

Xbox's post the other day, asking why do people want to have children, got me thinking. I was visiting a friend a few months back who is single and mad broody, and after necking several glasses of wine, we were having a right old boo-hoo session about our very loudly ticking biological clocks.

I was saying how it's so hard being the only one in a family of seven with no kids, and how hard it is rocking up to family events with no kiddies in tow. Then my friend said something to me that had never really occurred to me before. She is adopted, and for whatever reasons, doesn't think she will ever go down the road of tracing her birth parents. It could be a fear of rejection, or a feeling of loyalty towards her adoptive parents, I really don't know. She said that her most basic reason for wanting to have children is that she has no genetic link to anyone on this earth that she knows of. She's from a very happy family, her adoptive parents are lovely people and she couldn't have wished for a happier childhood, but she looks nothing like either of them, or like her adoptive sister. She has no nieces or nephews or cousins who look like her, and has never had anyone say "Wow, you're the image of your Mum/Dad/sister/cousin". If she never has children of her own, she will never have this link to loved ones that most of us take for granted. She sounded so sad as she told me this.

On the other hand, I grew up being told since I was knee high to a grasshopper that I am the image of my Dad. I resemble my sister and brothers and my Dad's sisters in different ways. Two of my nieces are my godchildren, and I've been told that both of them are very like me, the younger one is my eleven year old mini me. My younger godchild (the mini me) told me lately that she is thinking about taking the name Jane as her confirmation name next year. I was so chuffed when she told me that. So I don't have kids of my own, and who knows if I ever will or not, but I still get a good few "Oh my God! She's the image of you" moments, and I'm very lucky to have such great kids in my life, even if I don't have them full time. So all in all when I'm counting my blessings, I do have a lot to be thankful for.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bits and pieces

After last week's dramatic reminiscinces on the break up from hell, I'm back to thinking about more mundane issues. Such as, where's my sodding eggy white stuff? It's CD16 in the Big Brother House, and Jane is on regular cack watch. And there's not a sign of anything happening. Nothing, nada, zilch.

This month I was back on the clomid with a vengeance after a break for last month's lap cycle. My bloods were almost where they need to be last month (they need to be at 60-100 for progesterone and 400 -800 for oestradiol before we will be allowed to ttc) so as usual I had high hopes that clomid would do the job. My dose was cranked up to 100mg for six days, on day 2 to day 7. The first few days seemed ok, and I thought that maybe my system was getting used to this chemical bombardment. No such luck. By day 7 I was back to my usual basket case self. Crying at the drop of a hat for no apparant reason (other than the usual incessant pregnancy and baby chat among my colleagues) and finding it physically difficult to stop crying. Two evenings in a row I just came home from work and crashed out. Then on day 10 it was as if a cloud lifted and I felt fine again. I couldn't have cried if I tried. So it's obvious that clomid is having a very strong depressant effect on me. I thought that such strong symptoms would surely mean a whopping good quality ovulation this month. But so far nothing. Like WTF? I can usually see signs of something happening at this stage in my cycle. Weird.

In other news, John became an uncle for the fourth time while we were on holidays. She is his fourth niece, but baby number one for his youngest brother. And she is absolutely gorgeous. We called to see them at the weekend, laden down with nappies from the company shop and a seriously cute teddy bear among other things. John has been asked to be godfather, which is a first for him, and he's over the moon. Although I did get that little twinge of sadness when I held her, if anything it made us both all the more determined to keep on with this treatment. I find that I don't get as much of a jealousy feeling with newborns as I do with seeing pregnancy bumps. Maybe it's that when you see the actual baby, you know it's someone else's and you want your own baby, whereas when you see a woman with a bump it's a more generic image and more transferable to you. That's my theory anyway. I just hope to God that I'm not on clomid when the Christening comes around, if I am I don't know how I'll hold it together in front of all my in laws. Ouchy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Independence Day - Tenth anniversary celebrations

September 25th, 1998 marked a huge turning point in my life. It was the day I packed my bags and walked away from my first husband. As the song says, at first I was afraid, I was petrified. Shitting concrete blocks more like. I was 29 years old, and had been in an emotionally abusive relationship for more years than I care to admit. The hardest phone call I ever had to make was when I rang my parents and told them I was leaving him. They were nothing but supportive, but it was so horrible having to admit that I had failed in my marriage, especially as this was a first for my family.

I met C (my first husband) when I was 21. I was spending a summer in London as a student. At first he swept me off my feet. I was head over heels in love with this good looking English guy, who seemed equally mad about me. We shared a very loved up Summer, and at the end of it all I went back to Ireland to finish my degree, hell bent on keeping up the relationship long distance. We managed to do this until the following June, with him visiting me in Galway at regular intervals. Looking back, I think the long distance thing added to the whole romantic element of the whole thing. The following June, I left Ireland and moved to the UK to live with my boyfriend. Unfortunately, the UK was in the middle of a crippling recession (this was 1991) and things didn't work out so well for me on the job front. Eighteen months later we moved back to Dublin, where we lived until we broke up six years later. So I went from being a student largely financially dependant on my parents, to being an unemployed graduate largely dependant in every way on my partner. Not a good move.

It took me a long time to get on my feet after college. My confidence took a huge bashing, and unfortunately, our relationship descended into a downward spiral of emotional abuse. I look back now on photos of myself from my twenties and it saddens me. I was a physically attractive woman, but C tried to convince me that I was two stone overweight. I weighed around 10 and a half stone, I am five feet 7 inches tall, and was a UK size 12-14. Hardly a case of obesity, but he constantly made me the butt of his jokes and nasty remarks. Then he wondered why I wasn't willing to do the business in the bedroom every single night of the week. I used to go to bed every night either giving into his coercion or facing a row or a massive sulking session.

I find it hard looking back on it to understand how I just accepted all this. He had whittled away at my self esteem for so long that I actually thought that this was all I deserved. This was as good as life was going to get. So I think that's the reason why I married him. He didn't want a church wedding, so we went for a very low key registry office do with ten friends present, and only one family member, my sister. He kept saying he didn't want it to be in any way like a traditional wedding. He nearly threw a wobbler when I insisted in having a bridal bouquet. I think he was just in denial that we were getting married.

Within less than two years of us tying the knot, he started the affair that was to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Coming up to our second wedding anniversary, he started to suffer from anxiety attacks. I was worried sick about him, and thought it was all to do with him being in a new job, and not being happy with his career. I had started studying accountancy just after we got married, and I promised him I would support him through any career change he wanted to try. I tried to be there for him as much as I could. He started attending a psychotherapist for counselling, and I was gobsmacked when he came home and told me that all he had discussed was our marriage. After a few sessions, he suggested that I move out and we take a year off from our marriage. I know, you're thinking WTF? But he was such a manipulative little shit, he made it all sound plausible. The plan was that I would move out (but of course it would be me doing the moving, wouldn't want him to suffer any more upheaval, poor pet) and find a new place to live, whilst he sorted his head out, with a view to us getting back together at some stage in the future. Again WTF?

I eventually grew a spine and decided to dig my heels in and give him an ultimatum. So I told him I either left and our marriage was over for good, or we got our sorry asses into marriage counselling. So this week ten years ago, that's exactly what we did. I had had a very strong suspicion for a number of months that a certain friendship that he was passing off as platonic was more than that. After that first session I confronted him with it, and he admitted it. I can still picture him as plain as day sitting in the armchair, fiddling with his tie, his eyes not meeting mine as he confirmed my worst suspicions. My first emotion was relief, believe it or not. I was right all along, and not going mad and paranoid, as he had made me feel. My next question was "Are you going to end it?", to which he replied "I don't know if I can, I'm afraid she'll go back to being bulimic". I think I actually threw a punch at him at that point.

Anyway, the following night I told him I was leaving. It was the bravest and one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. A friend of mine took me in and looked after me until I found a place to live. They say that some of the most stressful things in life are marriage breakup, moving house and changing job. I managed to combine all three in the space of ten days. I had just started in a new job when the shit hit the fan on the homefront. It felt like I was living in a nightmare. I would lie awake for hours on end in the middle of the night, willing morning to come. Other times when I did get to sleep, the nightmares were so bad I would wake up crying hysterically. Like Nick Hornby said in "High Fidelity", when you are going through a breakup, the lyrics of every song you hear take on significance. The friend I was staying with was into particularly cheesey country music, and I remember the lyrics of one song she used to play in her car, which totally summed it up for me. "I loved you to the limits of my self respect, now I'm leaving with what's left".

The final nail in the coffin came two months later. C phoned me up and asked to meet me for some reason or another. The real reason he wanted to meet was to share the happy news that he was going to be a father. Yes, the stupid bollocks had not even bothered to use protection when he was knobbing his 22 year old mistress in our car. At that stage, I had met the man I am now married to, and I knew that this was the end, I was moving on. I told him that I wanted to initiate separation proceedings, but he told me he wasn't emotionally ready. He had got somebody else up the duff, but he wasn't emotionally ready to get our legal affairs in place. What a tosser.

Family law in Ireland states that a couple have to be living apart four years before divorce proceedings can be initiated. That makes for four unbelievably stressful years if your marriage breakup in an acrimonious one, which ours was. The following summer I contacted my solicitor and got the wheels in motion for legal separation proceedings. By this stage, C had moved house, and refused to disclose his new address. This meant that I had to hire a legal agent to serve court papers at his workplace. In the end, after much stress and sleepless nights, it took over three years to get him to court. He insisted that I owed him money for a car I never even drove, and he listed my engagement ring among the inventory of items I had taken from the marital home.

Standing up on the witness stand and answering questions on the downfall of my marriage was one of the most stressful situations I have ever been in in my entire life. I would have sat my accountancy finals ten times over before I would have gone through that. However, my barrister tore shreds off C and the judge kicked his ass out of court and called him petty. The feeling of a weight lifted off my shoulders was immense. The following year, I initiated divorce proceedings, representing myself in court. I went out an bought a red coat and killer bitch heels. I still refer to that coat as my divorce coat. I had my hair and nails done especially for the occasion. He turned up looking very sheepish. Another quirk of Irish family law is that all divorce cases must be heard in court, and the judge is legally obliged to ask is there any reasonable prospect of a reconciliation between the parties. Well if there was you would hardly have made it as far as the courts, would you? When the judge asked me this, I nearly laughed out loud. C looked as though I had made him feel about an inch tall. The divorce itself cost me the princely sum of €20, but the feeling of satisfaction walking out of that court was priceless.

I often think of the last ten years, and I thank God that I walked when I did. I could have spent ten more years living in misery. What I missed out on in my twenties, I more than made up for in my thirties. I finished my exams and qualified as an accountant, I learned to drive, I furthered my career, went backpacking around Australia alone, bought my own home and married a wonderful man. If someone had handed me a crystal ball this time ten years ago, I would not have believed it. I just wish the Gods would smile on me that little bit more, and send us a baby.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back from hols

God it feels like I haven't blogged in an age, but here I am back to the grind once more. We had a lovely time in the UK, and miracle of miracles, it didn't rain while we were there! Well I tell a lie, it was raining on the Friday night when we arrived, but after that it was sunshine all the way.

We arrived in Bristol on Friday evening, and there was a taxi waiting for us, arranged by wonderful sis in law. It was dark by the time we arrived at their house in the Cotswolds, but next morning this was the view from our bedroom window. Sis in law and her husband bought their current house earlier this year, and ever since have had builders totally renovating in. The result was quite jaw dropping. The kind of house I would fantasise about buying if I won a very large lotto jackpot. Our hosts were overseas when we arrived, and didn't get back until a week later, so we were left a door key and instructions to make ourselves at home, which we wasted no time in doing.

On the Monday, we set off for Leicestershire in our hosts' car (a great big fuck off 3.2L Audi). Yes, as well as leaving us their house keys, they left us their car keys too (with John on the insurance of course!). Did I mention that they're my favourite in laws? We rocked up to our friends in Market Harborough, one of these quintessentially pretty rural English towns on Monday afternoon. These are friends of ours with whom I used to work, in fact at one point all four of us worked in the same place. So on Tuesday, the girlies went off to Birmingham for a days shopping while the boys went off to do Engineer type pursuits, visiting an air force base aviation museum. We rounded the evening off with the usual British tradition, a trip to the local curry house and a feed of lager.

The following day we headed back for base, calling into some of my relatives along the way for a cuppa and a quick catch up. Thursday was the only full day we actually had to ourselves. We took off up the motorway yet again and spent the day pottering around Cheltenham. On Friday, another lovely sunny day, our hosts returned and we fired up the barbie.

John and I had prepared a butterflied leg of lamb, marinated with anchovy paste, rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Slapped it on the bbq and yummmmmmm...... We sat out in the evening sun, with a nice few bottles of wine and watched one of many amazing sunsets over the Cotswold hills.

The following day the weather was again fantastic, and we set off for a walk on the nearby heath, which after much dodging of cow shite, ended in a very civilised al fresco (slightly boozy!)lunch at a country pub. This really is my idea of living. Sunday was the last day of our holiday, and sis in law and husband had some friends arrive at lunchtime. The weather was actually hot, and we had to wear suncream and hats out doors. Once again the bbq was fired up in style. This time, a large rib of beef, which had originally been earmarked as a Sunday roast, was sliced up like large steaks and barbequed. Then the ten year old bottles of red started coming out. Alas, our taxi came to collect us at 4pm for our evening flight, so needless to say I snoozed in the back of the cab all the way to Bristol.

We got back home around 8.30, to our neighbour worrying that he had failed us in his cat sitting duties. Lizzie the little madam (ie our female cat) had been AWOL for the previous 24 hours. While we know this is not unusual behaviour for cats, it's unusual for our two, but once we switched on the lights and called her a few times she and her brother came running in. Queue a lot of cuddling, nuzzling and purring (and that was just the humans!). Home sweet home!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Results are in

Just got off the phone from my teacher, and the blood results were as follows for this month:
*drum roll*
Progesterone 55
Oestradiol 366

So not too bad really, considering it was my lap cycle. She also had a look at my hospital chart, and told me that I had had a considerable amount of adhesions on my left ovary, which would have adversely affected ovulation. So hopefully I'll start hatching good 'uns from now on.

I had a long chat on the phone the weekend before last with someone who has been through the same programme of treatment as me and came out the other side with two daughters, while managing to keep her sanity in one piece. I saught her out mainly to hear a positive story, but what I took away from the conversation was so much more. It was great to talk to someone who had been through the same old ding dong month in and month out (no pun intended) as we have been going through. The knicker watching, the charting, the blood tests, the injections, the clomid, the mood swings, the sheer all consuming bleakness of the whole thing. Her philosophy was that you have to take a mental step back from it all, otherwise your sanity and your relationship will suffer. So she advised me to plan as many nice events as I can in the next few months. Go on weekends away, catch up with friends, go out to dinner, do the things we used to do before we started with all this madness.

So on that note, we are off to the UK on Friday for nine days or so. We're going to be based mainly in the Cotswolds, where John's sister has a house, but we are also going to catch up with some friends who have moved to Leicester in recent months. I also plan to pop into some relatives on my side along the way. I must say, I'm looking forward to the break. I really hope the weather over there is better than here. My poor weather pixie has been stuck under that umbrella non stop for the past week.

We have also decided to do something about booking a big f**k off holiday for my 40th. Depending on how funds are, we might go to the USA, or we might avail of yet more hospitality from my wonderful sis in law, and get our asses on a flight to Dubai. Sis in law was telling me that it's a relatively short hop from there to the Maldives......very tempting. And if I did get knocked up in the meantime and wasn't feeling up to travelling, we could cancel and get a medical letter to claim a refund. Either way, I'm not going to go into a corner and mope goddammit! 40 is worth celebrating and I'm going to put on my little black dress and party! And if I do get up the Ballyjames between now and then, I'll buy a very glamourous maternity outfit. How's that for positivity?

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I was thinking the other day, as I face yet another monthly blood test, of my stats since we started on this long ttc journey.

So here's what I have counted so far:

Number of months since we started trying to conceive: 28
Number of BFPs: 4
Number of losses: 4
Number of ERPCs (D&C's): 2
Number of blood tests: 18 approx
Number of dildo cam scans: 17
Number of laparoscopies & hysteroscopies: 1 of each
Number of general anaesthetics: 3
Number of hcg injections: 30 (2 more to go this month)
Number of clomid cycles: 2
Number of Euro spent on all of the above: 2,600 + approx
Number of successful pregnancies: Nil
Age at next birthday: 40

And they tell me to relax and try not to dwell on it?

Edited to revise upwards no of dildo cam scans and amount of money spent.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back to the grind

My good buddy Xbox emailed me today to check in on me since I have been very quiet in blogland of late. The reason I have not been online is that I am actually doing a little to earn my salary these past few days, rather than using company time to surf the net and indulge in a little blogging - tsk tsk. Anyway, being a sort of accountant, I have been up to my proverbials in month end. It's a bit like your period. Happens once a month, is a total pain in the arse, and leaves me tired and crabby. Couple that with the fact that the powers that be installed a new in-house banking system while I was out sick, and my daily reports are not pulling all the correct figures, so there's enough going on to keep me out of mischief for a while. But I'm nearly there with it now.

I'm still feeling quite tired and sometimes sore after the lap. The scar on the left hand side of my belly has been itching and throbbing, so either that's a good sign that it's healing, or I am a girl wizard and Lord Voldemort is up to his old tricks again. I like to go with the latter theory, it's far more interesting. I did manage to install a weather pixie thingymadoodaa in the last couple of days. That long haired goth lady under the umbrella standing in the perpetual pisses of rain in the vicinity of Shannon Airport is in fact me. Or what I might look like if I lost two stone and regressed to my college days Curehead image. That was obviously long before I lost all street cred and decided to become an accountant.

I have made the decision to try and take a mental step back from the stress of the treatment I have been on. It's not an easy thing to do, but I was beginning to drive my poor husband insane, as it was becoming my sole topic of conversation, and it was beginning to bug him bigtime. Can't say as I blame him really, I have been a miserable bat this past few weeks, there's no denying it. So we have made a new covenant, as they say, to try and bring back a bit of joy and fun into our lives. I will post more about that anon, right now I am off to bed with a lemsip and a hot water bottle, as I feel a cold coming on. So no action chez J n' J tonight.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

All time clangers...

Or what not to say to somebody who has suffered a miscarriage.

OK, this one has been festering in my head for some time, so here goes:

Don't say:

1) Nothing. A miscarriage is a bereavement, albeit a silent one for many. If a friend or colleague lost any other family member would you fail to offer your sympathies? So why say nothing when they have lost a child?

2) At least you can get pregnant, or at least you can try again. One some levels this might seem like a comfort, but babies are not objects. It's not like I broke my favourite vase and I'm going to pop to the shop and replace it. It's not like my goldfish died and I can just go and pop another one in the tank and forget about the first one. This is a particularly hollow comfort to someone who has miscarried a number of times. It's one thing being able to get pregnant relatively easily, but when you repeatedly lose your babies in the first trimester, you're no closer to taking home a live baby than any other infertile person.

3) Same for At least you're fertile. Women who recurrently miscarry are a sub group of the infertility club, end of.

4) For someone who miscarries early: at seven weeks that was hardly even there, it's not worth getting upset about. A family member actually said this to us. What's more this came from the type of person who would ordinarily be in the pro-life camp. I'm not going to get into a pro-life/pro choice debate here, but we saw our baby's heart beating on a scan and it was very definitely there, and very definitely worth getting upset about when it was no longer there. Nobody should tell another that they have no right to grieve.

5) It wasn't a real baby. Similar to point 4 above. It was very real to the parents who suffered the loss. That loss represents so much more, the loss of dreams about the future.

6) You just have to forget about it and move on. If anyone lost a child after they were born would they be told to forget about it and move on? I don't think so.

7) You have an angel in heaven now. Ok, I do refer to my lost babies as my little angels sometimes, but saying this to someone who has just miscarried is just twee and of little comfort. I'd prefer a baby on earth, thanks.

8) Your troubles are small really, or at least you have your health. Relative to someone having a terminal disease, yes, a miscarriage or two might seem minor in the great scale of things, but relative to mass genocide then one person with a terminal illness seems like a small tragedy. It's all relative, and to trivialise someone else's grief really isn't helpful.

What you can say is

I'm sorry for your loss (or as one of my friends texted me when I told her by text about our third miscarriage, God Jane, that's really shit. Yes it is, and thanks for having the guts to say it in those terms).

How are you?

I'm here if you need to talk.

Other gestures I appreciated were people coming around to my house, bringing food, sending flowers, cards and plants to sow in the garden. These things I will always remember and appreciate greatly.

It was good to get that out of my system. Rant over.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Still here

First of all, a thank you to Xbox for the shout out last week. Now that he has proclaimed this blog to be humerous, I feel like I'm all under pressure to give my readers some laughs. Well I'm not promising anything, ok? I'm a crabby ould wagon pushing forty, so don't expect too much.

Well I'm back in the land of the living after my little "procedure" last Friday. It wasn't really all that bad in the end. Probably the worst part of it was the prep the day before. I was told that because the surgery might involve a bit of shufftying around the bowel (lovely!) looking for endometriosis, I had to make sure said bowel was empty. So cue the consumption of 4 litres of Klean Prep. To make it marginally more palatable, I added some blackcurrant cordial (Miwadi, for the benefit of my fellow Irish readers). Suffice to say, I never want to taste blackcurrant Miwadi again for a very long time.

About an hour after I started on this, a friend of mine called over. She had been away travelling for the last month, so it was a catch up visit. Luckily, she is a nurse, and is fully au fait with the effects of strong laxatives, so she didn't bat an eyelid when every three to five minutes I jumped up out of my chair to pop to the loo. Hey, what are friends for but to listen to your volcanic bathroom eruptions. Anyone else I would have been morto, but as I said, she's a nurse, and has seen it all many times before.

Anyway, Friday dawned, I was fasting from midnight the previous night, and we headed off for the hospital bright and early. I stocked up on trashy mags along the way (my big guilty pleasure) and we got there at 8.40, which was great as we weren't due to check in until 9, so we beat the rush for once. I got checked in, blood pressure taken, a million and one questions about allergies and false teeth (I have a bridge which I had to repeatedly point out to people). Then I got taken into the day ward, put on my gown, disposable granny knickers and settled in. I was taken up to theatre around 10am. Then they left me waiting outside in my little day bed for around 15 or 20 minutes, and they handed me another stash of trashy mags to flick through while I was waiting. This seemed just a little surreal, it's not like I was waiting for my usual cut n' colour after all. Well cut maybe, but definitely not colour.

Anyway, I was taken in to theatre, put in a drip, all the usual. As I have had 2 D&C's and a colonoscopy in the past two years, I'm a bit of a veteran of operating theatres, so even though lying on the operating table still gives me a bit of the heebee geebees, overall I was fairly calm. I woke up in the recovery area with a sore throat, feeling sore in the abdomen and a little woozy. Then I began to feel really cold, so the nurse tucked me up with a heated foil blanket, and I was snug as a bug in no time. Then she got an old saline bottle, filled it with hot water, wrapped it in tissue paper, and tucked it into the bed with me as a hot water bottle. I was really impressed with this. Anyway, I was wheeled back down to the day ward, and told I had to sleep for three hours, otherwise I would be very weak when it came to going home time.

So they ran John and all other visitors, dimmed the lights, closed the door and turned off the tv, so we could all sleep. I was drifting in and out of really strange dreams all afternoon. In one I was painting the outside of our house bright fuschia pink. I put that one down to the morphine. Man......the colours........

It was after 6pm by the time the gynecologist came down to tell us what he had found. We were told that I had mild endometriosis either side of my cervix, which is no more, since the good doctor lasered it off. Also, my left ovary had been stuck to my abdominal wall, so he unstuck it. I know he said something about ligaments, but I was still fairly groggy, so I can't really remember what it was exactly. So I was left with three stitches, one in my belly button, one directly below that, just above the herbaceous borders, and one to the left (presumably to get at that sticky left ovary).

So since then I have been milking my week long sick note for what it's worth. I've been living in my PJs and John has been waiting on me hand and foot. He went to the video shop and got me the first two season box sets of Desper@ate Housewives on DVD which I have been watching back to back all week. Again, total trash, but entertaining trash at the same time. So that's the update for now. I'm now counting the days until I have my next round of hcg injections, and then it's back to the blood tests. I'm going to try and get a bit calmer about the whole situation, go back to yoga classes, do acupuncture, and just try and get myself out of this miserable rut that I've been in for the past couple of months. Being away from work for a while has been good, but I know I will have to get out there and face the fertile pregnant world again soon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Off to Lapland

Well sort of, but I thought it would make for a snappy title. I'm having my laparoscopy and hysteroscopy done on Friday. As J pointed out, I'll make sure whoever is writing up the chart spells the second procedure correctly or we could really end up in shit street!

Anyway, I'm off to my friendly local pharmacist, with whom I am now on first name terms, to purchase 4 sachets of the soluble powdered delight that is klean prep. I feel a song coming on....

Good news and bad news

I heard from a few different friends yesterday, some good news and some bad. A very good friend of mine who miscarried at 13 weeks earlier this year, is now 13 weeks pregnant. I suspected that there might be an announcement in the offing, as she has disappeared off the face of the earth for the past six weeks. I have to say that I am over the moon for her and her husband, and usually when I hear that kind of news I always feel the stab of jealousy. But not for her, she has been through the mill. I rang her yesterday and had a big long chat. She has been absolutely petrified ever since she found out, and she was convinced that there would be no heartbeat when she had her first scan. I can totally identify with what she was going through. On my third pregnancy, the one that lasted longest, I went through 5 weeks of sheer heart in the mouth fear. Pregnancy after pregnancy loss is stressful beyond belief, and no amount of people telling you to relax is going to help. Anyway, she has had her first scan, is pretty much out of the woods at this stage and is beginning to calm down. I really wish her all the best.

A couple of weeks back I was looking on a school reunion type website, and I noticed a profile update from an old school friend of mine with whom I have sporadic contact. The gist of it was that she had got married a couple of years back and in her words "sprog due in September". When I read it, I thought there's another one beating me to it, as she hadn't even met her husband when we were booking our wedding. Anyway, the nicer person in me (as opposed to my bitter alter ego!) dropped her a note to say congrats on the wedding and impending arrival, and I just told her what has been happening with us. I didn't hear from her for a couple of weeks, so the thought crossed my mind that maybe something was up. My hunch was right. Got a mail from her last night saying that the baby had arrived six weeks early, weighing in at 4.5lb, but that she was home now and doing well. Not only that, but they had gone through one miscarriage, clomid, ovarian hyperstimulation and IUI to have her. Justs goes to show, you can't take it for granted that there hasn't been a struggle behind somebody's good news.

Onto the bad news. Someone else close to me rang last night. Her younger brother, who is in his early 30's, recently married and due to become a father for the first time later this year, has been diagnosed with MS. He isn't showing much symptoms of having any kind of degenerative form of the disease at the moment, but who knows what the future holds. I remember when I heard of his wife's pregnancy getting that old familiar stab of jealousy that accompanies pregnancy announcements from newly weds. It just really puts all of this in perspective. Now all I can think is God help them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

By this time next year...

I'm very lucky in that I am married to an eternal optimist. J is the most positive person I have ever met in my life. It's probably one of the biggest reasons I married him, along with his innate kindness and sense of fun. (And he's quite easy on the eye too!) Every time I have got to the end of my tether in this whole baby quest, he just says "Just think, this time next year, we could have a baby". At first I used to agree with him, but now I'm beginning to lose that hope.

When we first started trying to conceive, it was just after his 40th birthday. We were both sure it would happen quickly. I think the terror of pregnancy which had been drummed into me all during my teenage years made me think that one incidence of unprotected sex would be all it would take. So, at the age of almost 37 years old, I had unprotected sex for the very first time. And guess what? I didn't get pregnant!! Life WTF was I obsessing about for the previous fifteen or so years? At the end of that month, the night before our first wedding anniversary, I went to Galway to meet a close friend of mine who was setting off on her travels around the world with her boyfriend for two years. As I waved them goodbye, I remember thinking that the next time I would see them would be 2008, and we would definately have a baby by then.

When I got pregnant and miscarried that November, Christmas turned from being the dream Christmas to the nightmare. We had moved into our own house in the Spring of 2006, and after spending almost 18 years renting and paying other peoples' mortgages, I was finally at long last paying my own. We were so looking forward to having our first Christmas in our own house. We had to dig our heels in to get J's parents to accept our invitation to Christmas dinner. I think the dynamic in a lot of Irish families when it comes to hosting Christmas is that you are the children until you have children of your own. As in unless you have children, you are expected to pack up and go "home" to Mammy and Daddy for the holidays. Well I wasn't having any of that, I had waited long enough, and we were having Christmas under our own roof and that was that. Then I became pregnant, and the way the dates were working, I would have been 13 weeks gone around Christmas Day, which made for the perfect time to share our news with J's parents.

Then it all went to shit. I found out on November 14th that I had had a missed miscarriage, and a week later I had a D&C. As far as I was concerned, Christmas was cancelled, only nobody told the rest of the world. So we went through the motions, bought the presents, cooked the turkey, and got through it. Everyone told me that it would all be different in a year's time, and I tried to believe them.

Then the following April, I found out I was pregnant, due on the 21st December. So Christmas 2007 was going to be The Best Christmas Ever Ever. Only it didn't turn out that way, I lost the baby in May. In October, I found out I was pregnant again, with pretty much the same timing as the previous year. I would have been 12 weeks gone on Christmas Day (do you see a pattern developing here?) And same as the previous year, it was not to be. When everyone said "Just think, this time next year it will all be different", I just couldn't put on my happy face and agree. All I could think was "Yeah right, that's what you said last year". If I thought Christmas 2006 was grim, it was nothing compared to Christmas 2007. All I could think was that I could not wait to see the back of 2007, which had turned into the year from hell.

Last March, J's youngest brother told us that his wife was expecting their first baby in September. We were of course happy for them, but sad for ourselves at the same time. J kept saying to me "don't worry, by the end of the summer, you'll be pregnant too". Well it's hurtling towards the end of August, their baby is due in a month's time, and we're still not even allowed to try again. And my friends who went on the two year around the world trip? Well they came back from their trip of a lifetime last April, and they are getting married in two weeks time, and here we still are. When they announced their impending nuptuals, my first thought was "I might be pregnant by then". Then I thought "Or I might not, don't get your hopes up". At least I get to wear this little number to their wedding, stretchy enough to accomodate my post op stitches after the lap on Friday.

The next "I might be pregnant by then" milestone is of course Christmas. I have decided that if it's not happening by then, I'm booking us on a flight to somewhere sunny. We have a family member moving to Dubai, with ample spare rooms and a swimming pool so that seems like the perfect antidote to the not pregnant blues. The next milestone after that is my 40th birthday next May. Since I didn't get pregnant this month, it's now official that I will not be having babies in my 30's. That was a tough one to accept, and I think that was the crunch point for starting this blog. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be looking down the barrel of 40 years old and still childless. So if it's not happening by then, I honestly don't know what I will do. I certainly won't feel like throwing a birthday party, that's for sure.

Off Topic - Remembering Omagh

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the single worst actrocity in the history of Northern Ireland. 31 people, including a pair of unborn twin girls, were murdered in a car bomb attack in the centre of Omagh town on a busy Saturday.

Elblogador posts a full list of the victims in this post today.

May they rest in peace.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A fistful of clomid

We went back to the fertility clinic yesterday for a review appointment. Not much to report, really. This month was my second round of clomid. The first round was 50mg for five days. It was hard going to say the least. I'm not usually much of a PMT sufferer, but I was transformed into the anti-Christ for at least a week while on it. Poor old J was furtively checking for the "666" behind my ear when I was asleep. At the end of it all, bloods were taken and both oestrogen and progesterone were down on the previous month. Not going according to plan at all.

I phoned the consultant, and she said it was time to double the dose. So last month I took 100mg for four days. This time I took at last thing at night rather than first thing in the morning. All went ok until the last night, when I didn't sleep well, and again I was like a demon all weekend as a result. So yesterday, when the consultant said she was putting me on 100mg for seven days, J and I exchanged glances of dread. J started miming the shower scene from Psycho when the doctor's back was turned, and I have to admit it did make me crack a smile. If you didn't laugh you'd cry.

So this weekend, it's clomid time once more. Added to that, we have visitors. Pregnant ones. Well I mean the wife is pregnant, eight months at that. So although they are not ones to bring up the pregnancy and shove it in our faces, you can't really ignore the elephant in the room (no offense sister in law, I wasn't talking about you!) So it'll be a tough one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In praise of my Mother

For an Irish woman in her late 70's, whose biggest family planning issue in her early married life was trying to figure out how not to get pregnant, my mother totally gets what I'm going through. Professionally, her background is in nursing, and even though she gave up her career fifty years ago when she got married, her understanding and caring nature still shines through. She always asks how we're getting on, and how the treatment is going, and if there is something she doesn't understand, she will ask an intelligent question. It was actually her who first told me about the clinic we are now attending. Her friend's daughter had two miscarriages before she went to the people we are with, and she has since had I think two children. Mam's friend mentioned it to her, and she passed on the details to me.

When I had my first miscarriage, I rang her up, bawling crying down the phone. Once I calmed down enough to tell her what was wrong (I must have given her the fright of her life), she displayed such an incredible sense of empathy towards me. She too had suffered a miscarriage, on her fifth pregnancy, in the mid 1960's. The way she talked about the baby she lost, and the grief she went through, made it seem like it was still so fresh in her memory. She offered no platitudes, no dismissing statements of the "you just have to forget about it" variety, only words of comfort, because she had never forgotten her lost little one, and never will.

She told me about my brother who never made it. She was three months pregnant when she miscarried. She told me he was the only baby whose name they had picked that far in advance. She had the gut feeling that she was having another boy, her fifth, and she called him Hugh. She found out afterwards that she had indeed miscarried a perfect baby boy. She recounted the grief she felt, her mother's appalling lack of sensitivity towards her loss. Apparently Granny wrote her a stinker of a letter berating her for getting pregnant again, and told her to put Dad in the spare room. Where she thought they were going to conjure up this spare room when they already had 4 kids in a small house is anyone's guess. She told me that Hugh always had his place in our family, and always will. He would have been around 44 years old if he had lived. She remembered him on the days when he should have been starting school, making his first communion, confirmation, starting secondary school, doing his leaving cert, all the milestones that the rest of us went through in life.

Last week we were chatting on the phone and she was asking me how I had gotten on at my last hospital appointment. I told her I had been given a date for my laparoscopy and told her briefly what it entailed. The following evening, she rang me back, asking me was it this week I was going in for the surgery, she couldn't remember the date and she just wanted to make sure. I told her it wasn't until the end of the month, but that I was heading out to the nurse to get my monthly blood test, so fingers crossed. She said "ok then, your Dad and I will say the rosary especially for you and your blood test results tonight". How sweet is that? I remember her doing the same thing the night before my divorce court hearing. I just laughed and told her she wasn't allowed to pray for an easy divorce, but she reckoned God wouldn't mind. She must have been on a direct line to the Man above that night, because the hearing went off hitch free.

I don't know if I will ever tell her about this blog, or even if I did, she would hardly know how to turn on the pc, never mind get on d'internet, but whether or not she ever reads this, I just want to say, thanks Mammy, for being you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I've been tagged!

Thanks to Womb for improvement for tagging me and making me feel like a real proper grown up blogger. So I have to come up with six random things about myself and tag six others. I don't know that many bloggers yet who haven't already been tagged on this one, so I might pass on the tagging others, if that's ok.

Hmmmmm....let me think.

1) I have an extremely unusual surname. There are only two families of us in Ireland that we know of, and the other one is about to die out. I have no cousins or extended family of the same name. So I could be the only Jane G******* on planet earth. In fact I think I'd be a bit miffed if I found someone else with the same name as me. It's mine, all mine!! For this reason I did not change my name when I married.

2) Although I am the youngest of a family of seven, my mother tells me that I was one of the few planned pregnancies (cheers Mammy, nice to know!) She grew up with brothers and no sisters, so she when she had one daughter she wanted her to have a sister. So they went one last time and they got lil old me.

3) I am now an accountant, but in a previous academic venture I gained a degree in Geology. Don't ask, it's a long story. When I left my previous job in a commercial bank, my former boss wrote on my leaving card that I was by far the best geologist they had ever employed. I'll have to take his word for it on that.

4) I was the first of my immediate family, and I think the first of my extended family to get divorced. Probably because it was only legalised here in the mid 1990's. I am also the first and only member of my immediate family to go down the road of fertility treatment. Bummer, huh?

5) I was called after an Aunt who was a missionary nun in Latin America at the time of my birth. She subsequently left and married an ex priest whom she met over there. So my name is probably mud in Peru. Only joking, she did wonderful work over there and her name is revered there (just in case any of my relatives stumble across this, no offense intended!)

6) I'm obviously something of a late achiever in life, as I was 35 years old when I bought my first car, and 36 when I passed my driving test.